Estrada, Joseph


Estrada, Joseph
▪ 1999

      On May 11, 1998, Joseph ("Erap") Estrada, a former star of B movies, was elected president of the Philippines. Despite lacking the support of outgoing president Fidel Ramos, the country's business community, and the influential Roman Catholic Church, Estrada captured nearly 40% of the vote, handily defeating his nearest rival, House Speaker José de Venecia, who garnered only 15.9%. The margin of victory was the largest in a free election in the history of the Philippines. Estrada, whose charisma and populist platform helped win him a devoted following among the country's poor, was officially declared president by Congress on May 29.

      Estrada was born Joseph Ejercito on April 19, 1937, in Manila. The son of a government engineer, he entered the Mapua Institute of Technology with the intention of following in his father's footsteps but eventually dropped out to become a film actor. Forbidden by his parents from using the family name, he adopted the screen name Erap Estrada. He played the lead in more than 100 movies, usually portraying a swashbuckling tough guy who defends the poor against the corrupt establishment. He also produced some 75 films.

      He entered politics in 1968, successfully running for the mayorship of the Manila suburb of San Juan, in which office he remained until 1986. The following year he was elected to the Senate. In 1992 he ran for vice president on the National People's Coalition ticket. Although the party's presidential candidate, Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr., lost the election to Ramos, Estrada won the vice presidential contest.

      Barred by the Philippine constitution from running for a second term, Ramos supported the candidacy of de Venecia. Businessmen, who had benefited from the economic reforms of Ramos and who were fearful of Estrada's populist proposals, supported the candidacy of Renato de Villa, who had served as secretary of defense under Ramos. The Roman Catholic Church denied Estrada its support because he had admitted to having fathered four children by women other than his wife. He had, however, the support of Imelda Marcos, the widow of former president Ferdinand Marcos and a member of Congress, who withdrew from the race on April 29 after courts upheld her 1993 conviction and sentence on charges of graft. Moreover, Estrada was able to persuade at least some key business leaders that his administration would not hamper free-market reforms.

      After the results of what were described as generally peaceful elections were affirmed, Estrada was inaugurated on June 30. Having promised to crack down on crime and political corruption and to develop agriculture, he vowed to live up to the title he had given himself during the campaign, "president of the masses."

ROBERT RAUCH

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▪ president of the Philippines
original name  Joseph Ejercito 
born April 19, 1937, Manila, Phil.
 
 Filipino actor and politician who served as president of the Philippines (1998–2001).

      The son of a government engineer, Estrada entered the Mapua Institute of Technology with the intention of following in his father's footsteps, but he eventually dropped out to become a film actor. Forbidden by his parents to use the family name, he adopted the screen name Erap Estrada. He played the lead in more than 100 movies, usually portraying a swashbuckling tough guy who defends the poor against the corrupt establishment. He also produced some 75 films.

      In 1968 Estrada entered politics, successfully running for the mayorship of the Manila suburb of San Juan, a post he retained until 1986. In 1969 he was elected to the Senate. In 1992 he ran for vice president on the National People's Coalition ticket. Although the party's presidential candidate, Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr., lost the election to Fidel Ramos (Ramos, Fidel), Estrada won the vice presidential contest.

      In 1998 Estrada ran for president, though his candidacy faced significant opposition. Ramos, who was constitutionally barred from running for a second term, endorsed House Speaker José de Venecia, and many of the country's powerful businessmen opposed Estrada's populist proposals. The Roman Catholic Church denied Estrada its support because he had admitted to having fathered four children by women other than his wife. However, he did have the support of Imelda Marcos, the widow of former president Ferdinand Marcos (Marcos, Ferdinand E.) and then a member of Congress, and he enjoyed a devoted following among the country's poor. Estrada managed to capture nearly 40 percent of the vote, handily defeating his nearest rival, de Venecia, who garnered only 15.9 percent. The margin of victory was the largest in a free election in the history of the Philippines, and Estrada was officially declared president by Congress on May 29, 1998.

      Estrada's tenure as president was short-lived, however, as a corruption scandal erupted in October 2000 when a fellow politician claimed that Estrada had accepted millions of dollars worth of bribes. In November the Philippine Senate began an impeachment trial, but it was abandoned after some senators blocked the admission of evidence. On Jan. 20, 2001, Estrada was ousted amid mass protests, and his vice president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (Arroyo, Gloria Macapagal), ascended to the presidency. Later that year Estrada was brought to trial on charges of plunder (large-scale corruption) and accused of having procured more than $80 million through bribes and corrupt dealings. Estrada denied the accusations, calling them politically motivated, and he remained relatively popular in the Philippines despite the charges. In September 2007 he was convicted of plundering and sentenced to a maximum of 40 years. The following month, however, Estrada was pardoned by Arroyo.

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Universalium. 2010.

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