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The BBC's Clive Myrie
"He's not about to shy away from a fight"
 real 56k

Friday, 10 November, 2000, 12:26 GMT
Estrada faces new allegations
President Estrada
Estrada said he was "too busy" to report the bribes
The beleaguered Philippine President Joseph Estrada is facing fresh corruption allegations, over the alleged receipt of millions of dollars from the sale of businesses.

The claims emerged on Friday, as his lawyers struggled to contain the damage from an earlier revelation that a government bank account held $4m from bribes.

We are now beset by a crisis with a profound impact and possibly dire economic consequences

Bankers Association
As the scandal deepened, a dozen leading business groups warned that the economy could not absorb the fallout for much longer without "deep socio-economic displacements".

The Bankers Association of the Philippines - which warned of higher interest rates and volatile exchange rates - called for a prompt and "decisive" lawful action.

It said that "resignation, if freely chosen, is an honourable and heroic action."

These are all complete lies

President Estrada
The scandal has wreaked havoc with the economy, shaking investor confidence and sending the Philippine currency to a record low last week.

It has also sparked a political crisis, with the president almost certain to face an impeachment trial at the Senate.

Latest charges

On Friday, Mr Estrada denied the latest charges: that he received a $20m kickback from the sale of the country's largest telephone company and $16m from a controversial stock sale of a gaming firm, BW Resources, which is under probe for insider trading.

Vice-President Arroyo at a anti-Estrada rally
There have been strong calls for him to resign
"These are all complete lies," Mr Estrada said.

The former head of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Perfecto Yasay, said the $20m cash came from the sale of a controlling stake in Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company to a Hong Kong firm.

Mr Yasay was pressured to resign, after he accused Mr Estrada of attempting to influence an SEC investigation into a trading scandal which rocked the stock market.

Lawyers shocked

Mr Estrada also told foreign correspondents on Friday that he did not report that provincial governor Luis Singson tried to bribe him with millions of dollars because he was "too busy".

Anti-Estrada posters
Protesters have depicted Estrada as The Godfather
"A president has so [much] work to do," he said. "That is the work of the Philippine National Police."

On Thursday, Mr Estrada said that Mr Singson, his former gambling and drinking partner, placed $4m in bribes into a government bank account but denied any wrongdoing, saying the money remained unspent - so proving his incorruptibility.

The president's legal team, which has been hired to advise him over impeachment, held a meeting after the confirmation of the secret bank account.

"Frankly, they were shocked," said Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora, adding the lawyers had told the president to keep his mouth shut on the issue.

President Estrada has said that he no longer has time for mistresses - and praised his wife, Luisa, for putting up with him.

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See also:

09 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada: I didn't spend 'bribes'
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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