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Monday, 16 October, 2000, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
Estrada accuses enemies of plot
Anti-Estrada protest
Mr Estrada has come under growing pressure to resign
Embattled Philippine President Joseph Estrada has hit out at opponents saying allegations that he received gambling kickbacks are part of a wide-ranging plot to destabilise his rule.


I am not afraid

President Estrada
Speaking to reporters on Monday Mr Estrada accused political enemies of planning a violent campaign to force him to resign.

"They are planning to burn and throw bombs in the street to cause chaos in our nation," he said. "I have intelligence reports that they are going to do this. I am warning our people and our country."

Stock market
The crisis has hit the Philippine stock market badly
His comments come two days before a formal impeachment case against him is due to be presented to the Philippine House of Representatives by a group of opposition politicians.

Mr Estrada has been under growing pressure to step down since a former presidential ally, Provincial Governor Luis Singson, accused him of taking more than $8.7 million in payoffs from illegal gambling syndicates.

Economic crisis

Luis Singson, Estrada's former friend
Luis Singson said he delivered cash and cheques
Last week the head of the highly influential Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Jaime Sin, led a group of 75 senior priests in calling for President Estrada to resign, saying he had "lost the moral ascendancy to govern".

The scandal has added to the country's economic woes, undermining confidence in the Peso and pushing Philippine stocks to a two-year low at the close of trading on Monday.

However, analysts say impeachment proceedings against Mr Estrada are unlikely to be successful as his ruling coalition holds the majority in both the Lower House and the Senate.

Mr Estrada has denied the allegations saying they are part of a "political hatchet job" and has said his conscience is clear.

'Hogwash'

"They can go ahead in their impeachment," he said on Monday. I will face [it] anytime, anywhere. I am not afraid."

He went on to hint that he had evidence that the opposition Lakas party, headed by former president Fidel Ramos, was behind the alleged plot to undermine his rule.

"I know that they have many forces, especially the past administration," Mr Estrada said. "I have received information that they are trying to cause disorder in our country."

However, Lakas executive director Joey Rufino, said Mr Estrada had no evidence for his accusations saying they were "a lot of hogwash".

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See also:

12 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Philippines vice-president quits cabinet
11 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Cardinal Sin tells Estrada to quit
10 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Philippine leader faces impeachment
18 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada the man of action
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