Joseph E. Estrada

Joseph E. Estrada, the 13th president of the Philippines, was born on April 19,1937 in Tondo, a ghetto area of Manila and once the home to the toughies and poorest of the poor, to Engr. Emilio Ejercito (deceased) and Maria Marcelo. His father worked for the government. Joseph's mother, Maria Marcelo, a simple housewife, studied music at the Colegio de Santa Rosa.

After high school, Joseph decided to study engineering to follow in the footsteps of his father. But in his third year at Mapua, he decided to try the movies. Displeased with his decision to drop out of college, his parents forbade him to use his family name, which forced him to adopt "Estrada" (Spanish for street) as a screen name, and "Erap" ("Pare" or friend spelled backwards) as a nickname. During his movie career, he played the lead role in more than a hundred movies and produced more than 70 films. He was the first FAMAS Hall of Fame awardee for Best Actor (1981) and also became a Hall of Fame awardee as a Producer (1983).

Estrada entered politics when he ran for Mayor of San Juan in 1968. He was only proclaimed mayor in 1969, after he won an electoral protest against Dr. Braulio Sto. Domingo. As mayor (1969-1986), Estrada was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) in Public Administration. He was also named Most Outstanding Mayor and Foremost Nationalist (1972) and Most Outstanding Metro Manila Mayor (1972). The EDSA Revolution in 1986 brought about the end of his 16-year stint as mayor and was replaced by an officer-in-charge as part of the reorganization of local governments. Of all the Metro Manila Mayors who were replaced, he was the only one who left behind savings in the Municipal Treasurer - almost P24 Million.

Estrada's political career was not meant to end just yet. The following year, he ran for Senator, and again, contrary to the expectations of many, he won despite running in the opposition party. He was proclaimed in 1987, and held office there for five years. As a legislator, he followed a nationalistic and pro poor agenda. He chaired the Senate Committee on Rural Development, authoring and sponsoring the law to promote rural development by providing an accelerated program for the construction of irrigation projects within a 10-year period.

He sponsored several bills and resolutions for the protection and promotion of the interests of indigenous cultural communities. He also co-authorized the law requiring court stenographers to give free transcripts of notes to indigent/low-income litigants. He also authored an act creating the Philippine Carabao Center for the propagation of the carabao to enable farmers, particularly the small landowners and agrarian reform beneficiaries to avail of good quality stock at reasonable prices.

He was one of the most vocal opponents of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement. In 1991, when the agreement was up for renewal, Estrada was the first Senator to deliver a privilege speech against the extension of the agreement, and he voted for the agreement's termination. He explained that it was not because he had anything against Americans but that because he wanted the Philippines to reclaim its full sovereignty. On January 14, 1989, he was named Outstanding Senator by the Philippines Free Press.

From his being a senator, he ran for Vice President in the 1992 elections under the Nationalist People's Coalition-Partido ng Masang Pilipino, which he easily won by a big margin. As the elected Vice President, there were those who thought he would soon fade into oblivion, having no definite role to play in the government and belonging to a different political party from the President. He was however given by President Fidel V. Ramos the task of heading the newly-created Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC), a superbody mandated to go after organized crime and their perpetrators. He made headlines bagging kidnappers and other criminals.

In his private capacity, Vice President Estrada continues to be active in several organizations involved in matters close to his heart. He is the Founder and President of the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation (MOWELFUND), a Governor of the Film Academy of the Philippines and adviser of the Philippine Motion Picture Producers Association. He is also Founder and President of ERAP Para sa Mahihirap Foundation, the Police and Fire Trust Fund, and the Philippine Drug Abuse Resistance Education, Inc.(PHILDARE).

Estrada is married to Luisa Loi Pimentel-Ejercito, a doctor of psychiatry, whom he met one summer while working as a clerk in a mental hospital. His characteristic way of speaking English has been immortalized in a book called "Eraption: How to Speak English Without Really Trial."

After establishing a big and significant lead over his political rivals in the 1998 Philippine presidential elections he declared: "I will not play politics, I will not rule with vengeance, and I will give the last and greatest performance of my life in the service of the nation, and the upliftment of the lives of our people." Joseph E. Estrada, who will be the 13th president of the Philippines, is a man who has for several times won against great odds, proving his detractors wrong.

Rise and fall of Joseph Ejercito Estrada

Once at the pinnacle of stardom and power, former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada was pushed off the public stage Jan. 20 in a downfall more dramatic than the plot of any of his films.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched toward Malacaņang Palace Saturday, forcing the former action movie star to quit and slip out a back door.

It was an ignominious end to a presidency that, when it started in 1998, Estrada called his "last and greatest performance."

Estrada rose to stardom in his early 20s. He quit college, where he was studying civil engineering, to pursue a career in the movies. He specialized in playing tough guys with a soft spot for the poor and the needy, roles that earned the hearts of the Filipino masses. In the 1970s, he won five best actor awards in the Film Academy of the Philippines, the country's version of the Oscars.

Contrary to the image he projected, Estrada was born to a well-to-do family. His father Emilio Ejercito was an engineer. He was educated in the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University, one of the most expensive schools in the Philippines, and the Mapua Institute of Technology.

Estrada said as a child he fell into many brawls often to defend a friend. He valued friendship deeply, he said, and used the nickname Erap, which is "buddy" spelled backwards in the Pilipino.

He entered politics in 1969 with his election as mayor of Manila's San Juan suburb, a post he kept for 16 years until he was replaced during a reorganization of metropolitan by then President Corazon Aquino.

He was elected senator in 1987, then vice president in 1992 despite a past life that is seemingly dedicated to boozing, gambling and womanizing -- foibles that endeared him to ordinary Filipinos but disturbed the powerful Roman Catholic church. He has acknowledged fathering children with several women other than his wife. He has three children with his wife, Dr. Luisa Estrada. He also has children with former actresses Guia Gomez and Laarni Enriquez.

He banked on this macho charisma and pro-poor platform in the impoverished Asian nation of 76 million people to win the presidency with one of the largest margins in recent memory.

But former aides said he squandered his popularity and extended his carefree lifestyle into the office. He loathed work and never liked policy debates, aides said.

Businessmen complained about his management. Once on the verge of becoming another "Asian tiger," the economy lost direction.

A drinking buddy. Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis Singson, said Estrada often held latenight alcohol sessions with his "midnight Cabinet" of friends sometimes at the presidential palace with liquor worth up to $1,000 a bottle.

Singson then told of a more explosive tale, claiming in early October that Estrada, who had been linked repeatedly to corruption, pocketed millions of dollars in illegal gambling payoffs and tobacco tax kickbacks.

During the impeachment trial that ensued, prosecutors accused Estrada of breaking the law "like clockwork," keeping a network of hidden bank accounts holding millions in illicit funds. They said he bought a mansion for one of his mistresses for $1.4 million while declaring only a net worth of $700,000 for the year.

The end became clear Friday, when a string of generals and Cabinet members, many of them close friends, abandoned Estrada.

"He was like a father, an elder brother, a friend, everything like that. He has been very, very good to me. It's difficult but it has to be done," said Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief Of Staff Angelo Reyes.

Key events of Philippine President Joseph Estrada's impeachment trial:

Oct. 9, 2000: Gov. Luis Singson, a longtime friend of Estrada, said he provided the president with more than $8 million in payoffs from illegal gambling and $2.7 million from tobacco taxes.

Oct. 12: Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo resigns from Cabinet post as secretary of social welfare and development, citing allegations against Estrada. She later takes leadership of the united opposition.

Oct. 18: Opposition groups file an impeachment complaint against Estrada with House Representatives. Thousands of protesters demand the president step down.

Nov. 2: Dozens of lawmakers resign from Estrada's ruling party, including the Senate president and House speaker. Estrada's trade secretary and five senior economic advisers also quit.

Dec. 7: Senate impeachment trial begins with tribunal examining a check signed in the name of Jose Velarde, an alias prosecutors said Estrada used for hidden bank accounts. They said Estrada signed the check with the fake name to buy a mansion for one of his mistresses.

Dec. 11: An aide to Singson testifies she delivered $100,000 in payoffs from jueteng to Estrada's personal secretary.

Dec. 20: Witnesses testify one of an account in the Philippines third largest bank held millions of dollars in bribes collected by Estrada. Equitable PCI Bank President George Go resigns.

Dec. 22: The banks senior vice president, Clarissa Ocampo, said she saw Estrada sign a false name to documents withdrawing $10 million from a secret personal account.

Dec. 30: Five synchronized bomb attacks kill 22 people and injure more than 120 in Manila, days before the trial is to return from holiday recess. Police accuse Muslim rebels but many fear the bombs may be linked to the trial.

Jan. 16, 2001: Senators vote 11-10 to keep key bank documents secret, angering prosecutors who said the records would prove Estrada amassed $63.5 million from corruption. Senate President Aquilino Pimentel quits in protest.

Jan. 17: The prosecution team resigns and the trial is suspended indefinitely. Tens of thousands of Filipinos take to the streets.

Jan. 19: Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes, Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado, Finance Secretary Jose Pardo and other top military, police and economic officials resign and join anti-Estrada protesters.

Jan. 20: Under massive, pressure, Estrada signs a letter of resignation and leaves Malacanang Palace with his family. The Supreme Court declares the presidency vacant. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo steps in as the country's new president.




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