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Tuesday, June 30, 1998 Published at 12:19 GMT 13:19 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Estrada pledges to fight poverty and crime

President Estrada, centre, with outgoing President Ramos

The new President of the Philippines, Joseph Estrada, has promised in his inaugural address to combat poverty and crime.

The BBC's John McLean: "The hearty congratulations he received disguised some scepticism about the promise he made."
Mr Estrada repeated his pre-election pledge to give a greater share of the Philippines' growing prosperity to the poor who comprise a third of the population.

He told a huge crowd in his usual man-of-the-people style that progress must not be measured by the number of golf courses for the rich.

He also promised to stamp out crime and corruption both in the streets and in the corridors of power.
Joseph Ejercito Estrada being sworn in

Mr Estrada, 61, a former film actor, became the 13th president of the Philippines, on the 100th anniversary of Philippine independence, replacing outgoing president Fidel Ramos.

Landslide victory

John McLean in Manila: "This was very much the role he played when he was a movie star."
President Estrada won a landslide victory in May.

He is more at home in the world of show-business and the singing, dancing, parades and fireworks that will complete the day's celebrations are a reflection of this.

His critics also say there is an element of show-business in the promise he made to the voters who elected him last month, a promise to do something to help the one-third of the population that live below the poverty line.

Contrasting styles

The correspondent said there could not be a greater contrast between the flamboyant President Estrada and his predecessor, the technocratic Fidel Ramos.

Mr Ramos has transformed the economy into one of Asia's success stories.

But the Philippines is not immune from the Asian financial crisis and it is possible that this could prevent President Estrada from keeping his promise to help poverty-stricken Filipinos share in the country's success.

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12 Jun 98 | Asia-Pacific
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