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Thursday, 9 November, 2000, 13:06 GMT
Estrada: I didn't spend 'bribes'
President Estrada
Estrada takes an oath with mayors vowing to back him
Beleaguered Philippines President Joseph Estrada has admitted that kickbacks were paid into an account run by a presidential foundation - but denies any wrongdoing.

Giving his first detailed response to the allegations which could force him from power, Mr Estrada said that $4m placed in the account remained unspent - so proving his incorruptibility.

The money is still intact, not even one cent of it has been spent

President Estrada
Mr Estrada said the money was from the provincial governor Luis Singson, his former gambling and drinking partner, who has testified that the president asked him to collect millions of dollars in illegal gambling payoffs.

"He had been pressing me to take the money. I told him, 'I won't take it'," Mr Estrada told a local radio station. He said he only learnt later that Mr Singson had deposited it nevertheless.

I'm not a superman, I'm just a human. Maybe I made little mistakes

President Estrada
The president, who is facing impeachment proceedings, said that although he had not returned the money to Mr Singson, he had not spent any of it either, so he could not be accused of corruption.

"The money is still intact, not even one cent of it has been spent," he said.

Evidence for trial

Mr Estrada said he would use this as evidence of his innocence if he has to testify in an impeachment trial at the Senate, which now appears almost certain.

Vice-President Arroyo at a anti-Estrada rally
Arroyo tells a rally the president is unfit to govern
"I will answer the accusations at the Senate and you'll be surprised. I have many more things to say...," he said.

Mr Estrada vowed to see out his six-year term until 2004 and denied he was seeking a "graceful exit", as Vice-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is reported to have proposed.

Mr Estrada, a former film star, called for the political crisis to be resolved quickly.

"I'm not a superman, I'm just a human. Maybe I made little mistakes, but on the whole I'm doing my best," he said.

Women rally

The House of Representatives is scheduled to prepare articles of impeachment next week, in the next step towards a trial.

On Wednesday, several thousand women, led by Mrs Arroyo, marched in Manila's business district to demand that the president resign.

The scandal has wreaked havoc with the economy, with the Philippine currency, the peso, plunging to a record low last week.

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See also:

06 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
New move against Estrada
03 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada hit by fresh resignations
02 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
A tale of betrayal and revenge
30 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Estrada under fire
27 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada defiant as peso plunges
26 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada: I'll quit if proved guilty
10 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Philippine leader faces impeachment
04 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Manila rally piles pressure on Estrada
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