50,000 stage protest over `crony' state

VOTED INTO office in an unprecedented landslide, Joseph Estrada - a former star of Filipino movies - finds his presidency subject to very mixed reviews one year on.

Some 50,000 protesting Filipinos marched in Manila yesterday through a tropical storm, to a rally led by Cardinal Sin and former President Cory - key figures in the uprising that dislodged former President Marcos in 1986. Well-heeled businessmen joined peasant activists; crucifixes consorted with red flags. But the main hues were yellow, proclaiming support for the anti-Marcos movement.

Shreds of paper, also yellow, spilt from office towers in central Manila where the demonstrators converged on a statue to Ninoy Aquino, Cory's husband, shot dead in 1983 when returning from exile to a Manila run by Marcos.

The rally was crowded with ghosts. There were rumours that Communist infiltrators planned to disrupt proceedings with a bombing. "It is one of those scare tactics used by Marcos before. That is why we are here," one man smiled.

A small placard in the crowd put the case in equally simple terms: "No to Cronyism - Preserve the Free Press - No to Constitutional Change". Cardinal Sin and Mrs Aquino assumed the podium. "The people of the world will laugh at us, if we have not learnt from our mistakes of the past. Never again! Never again!" said the Cardinal.

"What is better than to stand up for freedom and good government against the threat of tyranny and corruption?" said Mrs Aquino, while carefully not attacking the current President personally. Mr Estrada himself has shrugged off the criticism. "I am a President, not a psychiatrist," he said at one point.

Central to the rally was Mr Estrada's plan to change the constitution. He says it needs correction if the Philippines is to be globally competitive; the proposed cure - removing controls on foreign ownership of land and utilities. He denies darker political purposes.

But his opponents are suspicious. It has been suggested that reopening the document may lead to dangerous political adjustments. Under the 1987 constitution, presidents are restricted to one term.

Lack of trust in the Estrada administration is fuelled by an alleged crackdown on the independent Filipino press. Isagani Yambot, publisher of The Philippine Daily Inquirer, says the hard-hitting paper has become the victim of a "financial squeeze". After two exposes involving members of the President's extended family, advertising was withdrawn by government financial institutions and substantial private interests. As with press freedom, so with allegations of cronyism. Mr Estrada has declared cronyism "dead and obsolete under my administration". But members of one commercial organisation, the Makati Business Club, said "the return of cronyism and influence peddling" was the most critical issue during Mr Estrada's first year.

The President says he will push on with constitutional change. But the controversy over his administration is un-likely to be smothered soon.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Neil Young performs on stage at Hyde Park
musicAnd his Hyde Park set has rhyme and reason, writes Nick Hasted
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

Software Engineer - C++

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software En...

Software Team Leader - C++

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software Tea...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor