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The BBC's Jonathan Head in Manilla
"This is an uneasy time in the Philippines"
 real 56k

Thursday, 18 January, 2001, 13:22 GMT
Estrada's bank records revealed
Protesters in Manila
Thousands gathered around the Esda shrine in Manila
Philippine newspapers have published what they claim are bank records of President Joseph Estrada's alleged fortune, as protests continued on the streets of Manila.

Two broadsheets and a satirical tabloid, the Pinoy Times, did what the Senate declined to do - reveal transactions relating to a secret $66m bank account of "Jose Velarde", an alias that prosecutors say the president used.

Protesters forming a human chain
Protesters formed a human chain
On Tuesday, the Senate judges in the president's impeachment trial voted to bar inspection of the president's bank accounts.

The decision led to the collapse of the trial after the entire prosecution team resigned, saying the process was a charade.

Thousands of people have also taken to the streets in protest.

The prosecution's case is based on the president allegedly using a bank account under a false name to buy a large house for one of his mistresses.

'Act of subversion'

The Pinoy Times said it had to publish the documents because "the people were left hanging."

The Today newspaper - which also published the documents - said the 11 senators who voted to bar the evidence were guilty of a "premeditated act of subversion" as they had suppressed "truth and justice".

Office working giving a thumbs down
Office workers give a thumbs down in disapproval of Estrada
The newspapers could face prosecution over the disclosure, as bank records are by law confidential documents.

The prosecution has told the tribunal that Mr Estrada kept the account to hide illegally-acquired money.

They have said the account was funded from "various cheques, most of them paid to cash" by Mr Estrada's cronies, including Dante Tan and Jaime Dichaves.

Human chain

On the third day of protests on Thursday, demonstrators formed a 10km (six mile) human chain leading up to the Esda shrine, a rallying point of a 1986 "People Power" revolt which ousted the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Joseph Estrada
Estrada has denied the charges of bribery and corruption
Lessons were abandoned as schoolchildren joined the gathering.

Many protesters wore black, to signify the death of Philippine democracy.

Security was tightened over fears of clashes between supporters and opponents of the president.

Calls have been made for an anti-Estrada march on Friday to the presidential palace - not far from where the president's supporters have been holding a vigil.

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See also:

18 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada tries to ride out storm
17 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Uproar at Estrada trial
10 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada 'interfered in murder trial'
08 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Mrs Estrada faces bribe claims
05 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada mistresses to testify
22 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Surprise witness stuns Estrada trial
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