Joseph Ejercito Estrada (1998-2001)
- CONDITION OF THE PHILIPPINES
During the 1998 presidential election campaign, like most presidential campaign, the competition did not do anything between political platforms and programs. Estrada’s strategists were aware that there is a large percent of the population who are poor and uneducated or “masa” who were looking for a candidate whom they could relate to. Using the slogan “Erap para sa mahirap”, Estrada succeeded in inspiring the lower class people with a hope that if he wins, he will the president of the masses. Estrada was inaugurated on June 30, 1998 in the historical town of Malolos in Bulacan province in paying tribute to the cradle of the First Philippine Republic.
During Estrada’s administration, the economic teamwas strong but during the latter part, the admin failed to capitalize on the gains of the previous administration. When Estrada was accused of influencing an investigation in the stock market manipulation, foreign investments declined. The Asian Financial Crisis and climatic disturbance hindered economic performance of the country. Towards the end of his term, the fiscal deficit doubled to more than Php100 billion. However, GNP increased to 3.6% from 0.1% and GDP incurred a 4% growth rate. Debt reached Php2.1 Trillion in 1999. Inflation rate went down from 11% to just a little over 3%. The Estrada administration upheld the foreign policy thrusts of the Ramos administration, focusing on national security, economic diplomacy, assistance to nationals, and image-building. The Philippines continued to be at the forefront of the regional and multilateral arena.
- PRIMARY PROBLEMS
- Graft and Corruption
Graft and corruption was pretty eminent not just during Estrada’s administration. Obviously, we all know Estrada was sanctioned to have been getting or robbing money from the governments’ fund to use for his own personal interest. That is why he was impeached due to his plunder and perjury case.
- Asian Financial Crisis
The Central bank raised interest rates by 1.75%. The BSP was forced to intervene heavily to defend the peso raising the overnight rate from 15% to 24%. The pesa fell from 26 per dollar to 28 pesos to 40 pesos by the end of the crisis.
- El Nino
The El Nino led to too many problems in the country. One of which is the serious drought of lands in the rural areas that cause the unemployment of the farmers and the rise of the prices of rice.
Of the 14.37 million families, 5.75 million belonged to the lowest 40% income group while 8.62 million in the highest 60% income bracket. In terms of percentage to total families, families in the highest 60% income strata got the biggest percentage in almost all indicators. But in terms of the percentage to the total families within each income strata, families in the lowest 40% income strata are not far off from families in the highest 60%.
- PROMISES DURING THE ELECTIONS AND INAUGURATION
Estrada’s first priority was to focus on the improvement of the economy. Creating the environment of peace and order in which business does well so as to uplift the economy of the country. Estrada wanted to focus on the masses and put up programs for them first. He promised the masses that they will not suffer anymore and let the rich people take a share on the sacrifices. As he states
“As far as resources permit, to the best of our ability and the limit of our energy, we will put a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and clothes on their backs. We will educate their children and foster their health. We will bring peace and security, jobs and dignity to their lives. We will put more infrastructure at their service, to multiply their productivity and raise their incomes.”
He stated several points regarding how the government can help out in improving the country. Stamping out crimes, providing basic services without the extra cost of pork barrel, roads for work, infrastructure, schools, clinics, national defense are some of the factors Estrada promised to implement or establish. Erap swore to give at once a government that works. Estrada also promised to bring peace and harmony to the society. He wanted every Filipino, rich or poor to feel that they are safe.
LAWS AND PROGRAMS
- Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 (Republic Act No. 8749)
Designed to protect and preserve the environment and ensure the sustainable development of its natural resources.
Incentives for Regional Headquarters of Foreign Multinationals (Republic Act No. 8756)
The measure grants a host of incentives to multinational firms establishing their regional hubs in the country. It also provides a tax- and duty-free operating environment for them, and multiple entry visas to expatriates and their families, as well as a flat income tax rate of 15%.
- Retail Trade Liberalization Act (Republic Act No. 8762)
The bill dismantles 40 years of state protectionism over the country’s retail trade industry and opens the sector to big foreign players. With the retail trade liberalization, well-known foreign players like France’s Carrefour and Casino Group as well as the U.S.’ Wal-Mart and JC Penney are already in the process of negotiating with local partners.
- New General Banking Act (Republic Act No. 8791)
The measure opens up the local banking industry to foreign players after almost 50 years of having it exclusively reserved and protected for Filipino nationals. With the industry’s liberalization, at least 10 foreign banks have already established their presence in the Philippines.
- Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 (Republic Act No. 8792)
Outlaws computer hacking and provides opportunities for new businesses emerging from the Internet-driven New Economy.
- New Securities Act (Republic Act No. 8799)
This law liberalizes the securities market by shifting policy from merit regulation to full disclosure. With its strengthened provisions against fraud, the measure is expected to pave the way for the full development of the Philippine equities and securities market.
- Agrarian Reform
The Estrada administration widened the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) to the landless peasants in the country side. The latter’s administration distributed more than 266,000 hectares of land to 175,000 landless farmers, including land owned by the traditional rural elite. On September 1999, he issued Executive Order (EO) 151, also known as Farmer’s Trust Fund, which allows the voluntary consolidation of small farm operation into medium and large scale integrated enterprise that can access long-term capital. President Estrada launched the Magkabalikat Para sa Kaunlarang Agraryo or MAGKASAKA. The DAR forged into joint ventures with private investors into agrarian sector to make FBs competitive. In 1999 a huge fund was allocated to agricultural programs. One of which is the “Agrikulturang Maka Masa”, through which it achieved an output growth of 6 percent, a record high at the time, thereby lowering the inflation rate from 11 percent in January 1999 to just a little over 3 percent by November of the same year.
- Anti-Crime Task Forces
In 1998, by virtue of Executive Order No.8, President Estrada created the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) with the objective of minimizing, if not totally eradicating, car theft and worsening kidnapping cases in the country. With the help of this task force, the Philippine National Police for the first time in history achieved a record-high trust rating of +53 percent. Panfilo Lacson was its first head. He also created the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime (PCTC) in 1999, with the objective of formulating and implementing a concerted of action of all law enforcement, intelligence and other government agencies for the prevention and control of transnational crime.
- Death Penalty
The death penalty law in the Philippines was re-enforced during the incumbency of Estrada’s predecessor, Fidel Ramos. This law provided the use of the electric chair until the gas chamber (method chosen by government to replace electrocution) could be installed. The Estrada administration peddled the death penalty as the antidote to crime. The reasoning was that if the criminals will be afraid to commit crimes if they see that the government is determined to execute them.
- Charter Change
Under President Joseph Estrada, there was a similar attempt to change the 1987 constitution. The process is termed as CONCORD or Constitutional Correction for Development. Unlike Charter change under Ramos and Arroyo the CONCORD proposal, according to its proponents, would only amend the ‘restrictive’ economic provisions of the constitution that is considered as impeding the entry of more foreign investments in the Philippines.
- RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement
On 1999 a Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, which was ratified in the Senate.The first Visiting Forces Agreement was actually signed under President Ramos in 1998, and the second was subsequently signed under President Estrada. The two agreements came to effect a year later. The primary effect of the Agreement is to require the U.S. government (1) to notify RP authorities when it becomes aware of the apprehension, arrest or detention of any RP personnel visiting the U.S. and (2) when so requested by the RP government, to ask the appropriate authorities to waive jurisdiction in favor of RP, except cases of special interest to the U.S. departments of State or Defense
- BENEFICIARIES OF THE LAWS AND PROGRAMS
Estrada’s agrarian reform was for the benefit of those farmers living in the rural areas. CARP was for the benefit of those farmers who do not own their own land. He distributed hectares of land to those who are landless. Farmers’ Trust Fund was intended for those farmers who have small and medium capital to extend their business into a large scale accessing long term loans from the fund.
Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force was launched in order to reduce crimes such as car/kidnapping. He also created the Philippines Center on Transnational Crime. Its objective is to implement law enforcement for the prevention of crimes. Estrada also implemented the death penalty where its objective is also, to reduce serious crimes.
The Charter change turned out to be a big issue in the government. This charter change was intended to recreate the constitution. Apparently, it was not really for the benefit of the economy or the country. It was for Estrada’s own benefit to gain more power and use more government money.
Estrada also formulated the RP-US Visiting Forces agreement. This is requiring US government to notify RP authorities when it becomes aware of the apprehension, arrest or detention of any RP personnel visiting the U.S. and when so requested by the RP government, to ask the appropriate authorities to waive jurisdiction in favor of RP, except cases of special interest to the U.S. departments of State or Defense. This was for the economy of the country.
- HOLES AND SHORTCOMINGS OF THE LAWS
Estrada’s Clean Air Act only focused only on the air quality management. I think it would have been more appealing and more effective if the law were not only about air management. I think if Erap implemented a law that focused on the environment as a whole and not just the air management, most citizens would have struck it thus making Estrada as a president who is really concerned about the status of our natural resources.
President Joseph Estrada urged Congress to speed up the passage of a new Securities Act aimed at promoting a more transparent and stronger stock exchange in the Philippines. He called on lawmakers to adopt models in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia, where the public has the majority ownership of the stock market, in restructuring the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE). He adopted systems from other countries that are really improving however; it is pretty hard for the country to use it because it is way too different. The Philippines is a third world country therefore will have a hard time carrying out the adopted system.
- ISSUES AND CONTROVERSIES
- War between MILF
During the Ramos administration a cessation of hostilities agreement was signed between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in July 1997. This was continued by a series of peace talks and negotiations in Estrada administration. However the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a Islamic group formed in 1977, seeks to be an independent Islamic State from the Philippines, despite the agreements, a sequence of terrorist attacks with the Philippine military and the civilians still continued. Such of those attack are 277 violations committed, kidnapping a foreign priest, namely Father Luciano Benedetti, the occupying and setting on fire of the municipal hall of Talayan, Maguindanao; the takeover of the Kauswagan Municipal Hall; the bombing of the Lady of Mediatrix boat at Ozamiz City; and the takeover of the Narciso Ramos Highway. By doing so, they inflicted severe damage on the country’s image abroad, and scared much-needed investments away.
The plunder case consisted of four separate charges: acceptance of 545 million pesos from proceeds of Jueteng, an illegal gambling game; misappropriation of 130 million pesos in excise taxes from tobacco; receiving a 189.7-million-peso commission from the sale of the shares of Belle Corporation, a real-estate firm; and owning some 3.2 billion pesos in a bank account under the name Jose Velarde.
The minor charge of perjury is for Estrada underreporting his assets in his 1999 statement of assets and liabilities and for the illegal use of an alias, namely for the Jose Velarde bank account.
- BW Resources
BW Resources, a small gaming company listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange and linked to people close to Estrada, experienced “a meteoric rise” in its stock price due to suspected stock price manipulation. The head of the compliance and surveillance group of PSE resigned which led to the confusion of the investigation. The events created a negative impression. “The BW controversy undermined foreign investor confidence in the stock market” and “also contributed to a major loss of confidence in the Philippines among foreign and local investors on concerns that cronyism may have played a part.”
- Impeachment Trial
This was the first time Filipinos would witness, through radio and television, an elected president stand in trial and face possible impeachment with full media coverage. During the trial, the prosecution presented witnesses and alleged evidences to the impeachment court regarding Estrada’s alleged involvement in jueteng. The existence of secret bank accounts that he allegedly used for receiving payoffs was also brought affront. Singson stood as witness against the president during the trial and said that he and the President were alleged partners in-charge of the countrywide jueteng operations. Singson’s testimony was one of the vital pieces of evidence that led to Estrada’s subsequent conviction.
WHAT THE PRESIDENT DID
With Erap’s plunder and perjury case, he did not do anything about it to prove that he is not doing some illegal acts. He just made a way to erase the thought in people’s minds. Because his market is the masa and the masa does not care about how their president act as long as he is doing something to uplift their sufferings, they do not keep in mind what Erap is doing may it be against the law or not. He just let the government take away his position by the impeachment trial. Erap’s perjury case was different. The Jose Velardo account was obviously one case which Estrada together with his supporters .
- SUMMARY OF GOVERNANCE
Joseph Estrada was elected as president gaining most of the votes from the people. Erap won the hearts of the poor by promising them with a life where suffering does not exist. He also made it to a point to prioritize the development of the economy. Under the Asian financial crisis, Estrada did not do well in making the economy survive. Unemployment rate went up, budget deficit grew and the currency fell. Eventually, the economy recovered but at a much slower pace than other asian countries. Estrada waged an all out war against the MILF which affected a huge number of people. Crime rate also went up because of the occurring kidnapping and killings. Estrasa was charged of receiving a big amount from illegal gambling payoffs. He was impeached. The masses protested and demanded for Erap’s resignation bringin about EDSA 2 revolution.
- GRADE (DLSU SYSTEM)
I think he deserves a 1.0. Although he was charged of plunder, was labeled at Jueteng Payola and labeled as a womanizer, he still made some acts to which it had a good effect on the country. Ever since Estrada was accused of laundering and pocketing a humungous amount of money, I have concluded that he is very much capable of doing such things against the country. He is a kind of person who gets what he wants. He deluged himself of wine and satisfied himself with wanton pleasure for women. These two are the most dangerous sickness a man could be inflicted with.
However, even though Erap didn’t have the educational competence, economists can prove to us that 1998-2001’s economy were in better condition. During Ramos’ administration, you can even see a slump in our economy some of which even reached the negative mark. Meaning, if he was really that good he should be able to sustain any growth he’d been saying. In fact, in 1996, our economy dipped down to a below zero mark and this can be attested by some political economic analyst. The revenue collections were very good because we had less foreign borrowings and in turn less budget deficits, unlike what’s happening to us right now. He had very good appointees that were able to alleviate budget difficulties.