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Sunday, 21 January, 2001, 17:42 GMT
President Estrada: Should he go?

Philippine President Joseph Estrada is under mounting pressure to resign.

The collapse of his impeachment trial in the Senate has led to massive street protests. The Armed Forces have withdrawn their support and several Cabinet ministers have resigned.

President Estrada has called for early elections, but says he won't stand down.

Is he right to stay, or is it time for him to go?

This debate is now closed. Some of the comments you sent us can be found below.

I wonder what next for Filipino democracy if Estrada is indeed compelled to resign by force. How meaningful is a democratic government in which the decisions of the elected legislature are simply ignored if some segment of the population, however correctly, decides that the motivations behind those decisions are corrupt?

The eagerness to rid the country of an obviously corrupt leader should not mean the Constitution should be circumvented

B.C.C., United States
Estrada should go -- and should have made his exit long ago. The eagerness to rid the country of an obviously corrupt leader should not mean the Constitution should be circumvented. The impeachment trial should have gone on and Estrada ousted through constitutional means, not by the bullying tactics of opposition leaders who have enlisted the church and the military.
B.C.C., United States

He should go but only if the looming constitutional question is resolved within the framework of the 1987 People Power Constitution. Any extra-constitutional means of ousting the President will open the door to future instability in the political situation. If we allow the Vice-President to take over even as the President refuses to resign, it will send a very bad message that we cannot abide by the basic law of the land.
Gee, Philippines

The point is: does he still have the moral authority to govern the nation

Ebie Florano, Philippines
While it took 20 years for the conjugal dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda to amass intoxicating wealth, Estrada needed only 2 years. The issue here is no longer whether he has the legal mandate - the point is: does he still have the moral authority to govern the nation. His 11 senators tried to hide the truth to obstruct justice. The Filipinos would hear none of these delaying tactics anymore.
Ebie Florano, Philippines

Stepping down is the right thing to do. What scares me the most, however, is how Arroyo has claimed the "Commander in Chief" position without any formal democratic process.

Following the autocratic Marcos years, the Philippines once again had the chance to emerge as a democracy. President Estrada's resignation would prove that the newfound democracy that the Philippines gained is still alive and well. If he remains in power, it will be an indication that the Philippines has returned to the politics of corruption and cronyism.
OL, NSW Australia

Estrada should go. The people have spoken.

Estrada should go. The people have spoken. As much as there was an impeachment trial, it was evident that Estrada's allies in the Senate have voted for their own gain. It was evident that Estrada's senators could not substantially justify their vote to repress critical evidence. If these eleven senators could not respect the constitution, who can blame the people who have come out on the streets?
JTS, Boston, USA

Although Estrada's presidency may have been legitimised by his wide margin of victory, this legitimacy no longer holds true. Just like any other democratically elected official, he had a social contract to serve the people and their interests - not his. The only successful thing that he has ever done in his presidency has been making the poor believe that he is actually going to help them out.

The Philippines just made that quantum leap from a leadership crisis to a constitutional crisis

The Philippines just made that quantum leap from a leadership crisis to a constitutional crisis. No truly democratic society can survive and be strong if it tramples on its own bible, the constitution.

I am a Filipino. I agree with Steve Mac. I wish one meteor will hit Philippines and wipe out only those corrupt people. So they can stay in power. It's a cycle.
Gregg, USA, Maryland

Having been to the Philippines I find it amazing that people are actually surprised that the President is corrupt. The whole country is corrupt. If you cut the head off another one will just grow back in it's place. The whole system there needs overhauling not just the President.
Steve Mac, UK

Estrada should definitely step down and give a more capable and "educated" person take reign of our much scarred country

Malou Carreras, USA
I'm a Filipino based in the US feel that Estrada should definitely step down and give a more capable and "educated" person take reign of our much scarred country, first Marcos, then this. Estrada did not have any business being the President of the Philippines anyway.
Malou Carreras, USA

It's about time that he resigned. The economy is doing bad, the people have long lost trust and respect, and his cabinet and friends are deserting him.
Tristan B, USA

Estrada should go...
8 million dollars all for yourself.... 8 wives.... millions of Filipinos suffering... What more can he ask for? The dignity of the Filipino People? Don't you think its time to let go Mr. President? You say you are for the masses. But what good have you done of us? Since you assumed office what good have you done for the country? Don't you see the poor people on the streets of Manila on your way to work? Come on, don't you think you are either blind or just plain moron if you do not see this? The Filipinos are suffering more each day because of pride. Be a leader for once, Mr. President, and take one for the Philippines. Resignż
Luke Arcellana, Philippines

I think ERAP should stay. He must not give in to those power hungry politicians who are riding on this corruption issue. Let's face it; tell me where can you find a truly honest and clean politician. if you can find one! look at our economy it's down, and yet we Filipinos are trying to make the best out of it.
John Gonzales, Philippines

Democracy isn't perfect anywhere on the planet, every system has its faults

People have been saying what is good democracy and what is bad. The US has little to offer on this front and Europe doesn't really fair much better. Democracy isn't perfect anywhere on the planet, every system has its faults. People outside the Philippines are conveniently judging from their own perspective, the outside.
Only Filipinos can judge if Erap should stay or not. There are only two things I can really say. Firstly, there is no smoke without fire and secondly, the press and the opposition in any democracy with also vastly magnify any fault in a leader. If you believe he is a good man give him a fair chance, he was elected by the people. If he has done grossly wrong things during his presidency, he should go.

I truly believe that the actions of the President should set a moral standard for the rest of the country. Erap's infidelity and alleged corruption has already tainted the world's perception of the Philippines in such a way as to irrevocably stigmatize the validity of the democracy in place
Joanne Uy, USA

If this is not the time, when is?
Jacky Wong, Singapore

The impeachment movement highlights one fact. The Philippines is a young democracy. It has been independent for only the last 100 years. Yet already it has consistently been teaching the world in non-violent democratic action. What ever its flaws it is still far superior to any government that practices ethnic cleansing against its own people. It takes much discipline and organisation to produce street demonstrations without bloodshed. It takes a lot of maturity to admit to voting for the wrong person. What is an "advanced" democracy anyhow?
Homer Escalante, Philippines

After these mass actions, politicians will think twice about betraying the people

Rome Jorge, Philippines
The issue here is criminality. No one is above the law. It is not a conflict between the rich and the poor. It is a conflict between those who want dole-outs and kickbacks for themselves and those who want progress for all. It is a fight between the principled and the cynically apathetic. The street marches are not just against Mr. Estrada, they are against all current and future corrupt officials. After these mass actions, politicians will think twice about betraying the people. Filipinos should be more concerned about the daily lives of its poorest citizens instead of keeping up appearances for the world. We are re-inventing democracy here in the Philippines to suit the needs of the Filipino. No one can judge the Filipino but himself.
Rome Jorge, Philippines

Erap is a democratically elected politician. His term of office is 6 years. Unless it is PROVED he has done wrong whilst in office, he should stay in power. If you have a system of government in place, you should follow it and not allow disgruntled opposition politicians try and undermine that system simply because they feel they would do better.
Jeff McIntyre, Singapore

The street circus organised by the supposedly "elite"- level opposition degrades the Philippines to a banana republic, not President Estrada

Henrik A. Nyqvist, Philippines
Estrada was democratically elected by a big majority. He has no record of human rights abuses or suppression of the opposition. Even if he got a few million dollars, he is probably one of the cleanest leaders in the South-East Asian region. If the constitutional process finds enough reason, he will be removed. The street circus organised by the supposedly "elite"- level opposition degrades the Philippines to a banana republic, not President Estrada.
Henrik A. Nyqvist, Philippines

If Erap goes scott free from the senate trial, it will only confirm one's belief that what Filipino politicians are on about is to play games with the common people. The motion to oust Erap seems to be nothing but a show. At the end of the day, it is the politicians who have the last laugh.
Ernie Espina, Australia

He should stay in office

Dave Perez, USA
He should stay in office. Give him a chance to solve the Philippines worsening economic problems.
Dave Perez, USA

The Filipinos of this generation are the product of the 1986 People Power revolution of EDSA. They are more enlightened and have demonstrated their determination in the national political mainstream. It will already be difficult for Estrada to continue serving an aware constituency, who will not only march on the streets to air their grievances but are proven ready to die for their convictions.
Bai Maleiha B. Candao, Maguindanao, ARMM, Philippines

What do you expect from Estrada, he is Marcos' sequel?
John, USA

It is long past due for Estrada's departure

Polo, Philippines
It is long past due for Estrada's departure. Democracy in the Philippines is maturing, the system is working. This is borne out by the fact that the House of Representatives voted for impeachment despite the fact that Estrada's party controlled it at the beginning of the "Jueteng" issue. Now all that remains is for the electorate to be better informed and more circumspect about the future leaders we elect. Let's not elect any more actors or demagogues.
Polo, Philippines

Definitely, he should go now. Like the characters he's played in the movies, there's a time when he has to give up and accept the fact that being a president is not his expertise.
Ali, Philippines

Absolutely and the sooner the better. The sad thing is, President Aquino restored democracy to the PI and her successor, former President Ramos, was starting to turn the country around. Foreign investment was booming and the daily power outages became a thing of the past under his leadership. Erap squandered all those gains, and then some. It's not all his fault, however. The Filipino people share the blame for voting in this clown.
D. Makichuk, Canada

Personality and all the attendant petty jealousies drive Philippine politics

ESmit, USA/ Philippines
The Filipino people will have to look long and hard at themselves and the political system that they continue to support even while they pursue the ousting of their president. Personality and all the attendant petty jealousies drive Philippine politics. Estrada's election to office was a result of speaking to and about the poor who are the majority of the population, something past leaders have failed to do. Yes, he should go, but until a grassroots campaign to reform the political system is begun and politicians provide more than lip service to the poor, this, or a similar scenario, is bound to recur.
ESmit, USA-Philippines

He should resign and let Macapagal manage the country. Erap, you're not the man anymore! You are making the country worse! Have pity on those who have nothing to eat!
Thelma, USA

Let them that have never been involved in any form of corruption cast the first stone. Rather than trying to appear sinless, the energy of the accusers needs to be directed first against the cowardly MILF and NPA who are attempting to sow fear throughout the country. Then ALL government officials need to make a commitment to themselves, to their families and to the citizens they represent to change themselves and the office they hold and to stop further corruption within their respective areas of responsibility.
Annicita, USA

It is quite evident that something has to change

Elise, Hong Kong
Looking at the economic situation in the Philippines right now, it is quite evident that something has to change. Corruption is rife in all sectors, from the highest level in Government through the taxi drivers to the vendors in the street. Again, education is what is needed. Estrada was elected, according to the experts, on the basis of the role he played in his movies: saviour and defender, maybe even avenger, of the poor. Goes to show that what you see in the movies is not necessarily a reflection of reality.
Elise, Hong Kong

From the 30's to the 60's, the Philippines was one of the leading economies of Asia. But when Marcos put his cronies in political and economic power, it became a Third World freak show. The same thing is happening again while Estrada is in power. Our country cannot afford any more cronies to further ruin our already destroyed economy.
Paolo Galarrita, Philippines

In countries like the Philippines, there will always be corruption in government. Whoever is sitting in Estrada's seat, will have corruption charges of some sort. So it is not the president that has to go. It is the corrupted system of the Third World that has to go. But since that can't go overnight, at this point, nothing needs to be done. Estrada should stay and people should work hard to change their system and their mentality...NOT president. They should imitate US or other developed countries not only in terms of brand names and music but in creating a first world country as well.
TT, Los Angeles, USA

It's in the best interest of the country as well as the President to step down

Sudeep Pant, Australia/Nepal
It's in the best interest of the country as well as the President to step down. The country can not afford to go through much of this political and economical turmoil for long. The President has to resign, if not for anything, at least on moral grounds for taking the country to instability and a total chaos.
Sudeep Pant, Australia/Nepal

The worst scenario for the Philippine economy is that Estrada should stay in office. Before this latest scandal erupted the economy was pretty dead in the water, after being in a fairly good economic and fiscal position after the Asian crisis. The economy will go backwards until domestic and international investors feel there is a reason to chance their money in the Philippines.
In the next 20 years the population of the Philippines will rise from 70m to about 100m. For Estrada to stay in power for 20% of that time will condemn the country to more rural poverty than exists now. The only thing that will bring investors here will be the dirt cheap labour costs compared to countries in the region with a similar standard of education and training - what a tragic prospect, the Filipino people deserve better.
David Barnett, Philippines

He is the exact opposite of everything that is good for the Filipino people

Godofredo A. Alvero Jr.,Philippines
He should go...NOW! He has no moral ascendancy (even prior to his assumption of the presidency) to lead the country... He is the exact opposite of everything that is good for the Filipino people. If he refuses to step down, or if he manipulates the impeachment proceedings in the Senate to his own advantage, then we reserve all rights and waive none so as to ensure this scum-of-the-earth masquerading as a populist pro-poor leader is removed from power.
Godofredo A. Alvero Jr., Philippines

Democracy in the Philippines is in peril due to the vested interests of several oligarchs in the country. Because of their selfish interests, they should stop pointing fingers at President Estrada.

The recent "impeachment" of President Estrada only proves that the citizens are ignorant and as uneducated as the politicians that serve them. Granted that Estrada did not complete his education but he has serve his constituents well. Most Filipinos who had demonstrated for the coup against Marcos are the same ones demonstrating against the current President.
Anny Delacruz, US

He definitely should go. He has the brought the Philippine economy to an all time low. It's time for a change. Wjavier, USA

The opposition are the only one who's making things look bad here in the Philippines

IB, Philippines
It's obviously not yet time for him to go, because the impeachment proceedings are still on trial in the senate! The opposition are the only one who's making things look bad here in the Philippines. Like Sir Winston Churchill said, "This was their finest hour." Find the truth and try not to be prejudice to our President.
IB, Philippines

He shouldn't have been elected in the first place! His resignation is long overdue.
K, Philippines

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