Chronology of Estrada's tumultuous two years in office

AFP, Monday 13 November 2000, 5:21 PM SGT

MANILA, Nov 13 (AFP)—Chronology of Philippine President Joseph Estrada's tumultuous two years in office.

May 29, 1998: Joseph Estrada is proclaimed by Congress as the Philippines' 13th president after a landslide victory in polls.

Before taking his oath of office, he comes under fire for proposing to bury the preserved remains of deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos at a heroes' cemetery. He backs down amid public outrage.

June 30: Estrada takes his oath as president for a six-year term, vowing reforms and to chase crooks out of government.

Sept 23: Philippine Airlines, controlled by Estrada friend Lucio Tan, shuts down amid financial difficulties. It reopens shortly after creditors accept a rehabilitation plan. Estrada is accused by critics of protecting Tan from foreign competition.

Jan 5, 1999: Estrada's finance secretary Edgardo Espiritu quits over disenchantment with the administration.

June 15, 1999: Estrada defends his son, Jude Ejercito, a reserve captain in the Philippine air force, from allegations he used a presidential plane and left unpaid bills during an unofficial trip to attend a show of a girl he was dating.

Jan 3, 2000: The influential Catholic Church accuses Estrada of trying to make the Philippines a gambling haven after the government approves a floating casino project by Macau gambling mogul Stanley Ho. Ho later backs out of the project.

Jan 19: Estrada is accused by the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission Perfecto Yasay of pressuring him to clear a friend accused in the country's worst insider trading scandal. Yasay is later forced to quit and the stock market flounders.

April 23: The Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremist group abducts 21 hostages from seven nations from the nearby Malaysian resort of Sipadan and brings them to the southern Philippine island of Jolo two days later.

The crisis frightens off foreign investors and puts Estrada under pressure for months as foreign governments express concern over the safety of the hostages.

July 9: Government troops capture the headquarters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country's main Muslim insurgent group, after Estrada declares an all out war with the secessionists.

Victory helps shore up Estrada's sagging popularity, but the MILF calls for a holy war or jihad in retaliation for the setback.

Sept 16: Estrada orders military assault to destroy the Abu Sayyaf and rescue remaining hostages in Jolo. Two French journalists, three Malaysians and 12 Filipino Christian preachers are rescued but a Filipino and an American remain in the hands of the rebels.

Oct 9: Former Estrada friend, provincial governor Luis Singson, accuses the president of pocketing more than eight million dollars in bribes from illegal gambling syndicates and about four million dollars in kickbacks from tobacco excise taxes meant for his province.

Estrada denies the accusations but announces an end to state sponsored gambling and privatizes a government-run casino firm.

Oct 12: Vice President Gloria Arroyo, who is next in line to succeed Estrada, resigns from cabinet citing a loss of confidence in his leadership.

Oct 18: Opposition legislators file an impeachment motion against Estrada in the House of Representatives over the scandal as thousands of anti-Estrada activists led by former president Corazon Aquino lead calls for the president to quit.

Oct 25: Arroyo breaks her silence and joins calls for Estrada to resign, and forms a united opposition against the embattled president.

Oct 30: Estrada announces sweeping reforms in government and offers Arroyo the country's top economic post as a gesture of reconciliation. Arroyo rebuffs the offer, saying he should step down to prevent an economic collapse. Estrada is adamant, he will not resign and says he will defend himself in Congress.

Oct 31: The Philippine peso plunges to a new all-time low of 51.95 to the dollar with traders blaming Estrada's rumbling corruption scandal.

Nov 2: Trade secretary Mar Roxas resigns from cabinet. Five economic advisers also step down.

Nov 3: Estrada's key supporters in Congress, Senate President Franklin Drilon and House of Representatives Speaker Manuel Villar, quit the ruling coalition with 45 other legislators.

Nov 4: Arroyo, the Catholic Church and other key members of the opposition lead some 60,000 people in a peaceful protest in Manila calling for Estrada's resignation.

Nov 8: In his first detailed reply to the illegal gambling bribery allegations, Estrada admits four million dollars in intended bribes were deposited into an account of a presidential charity organisation controlled by his lawyer.

Estrada says the money is intact and would be used as evidence to disprove corruption charges against him.

Nov 11: More than a million people gather in the Philippine capital for a government-organized prayer rally widely seen as a show of support for Estrada.

Nov 13: Estrada is impeached by the House of Representatives for alleged corruption and will face a Senate trial that could oust him from office.