Quit post, Senate resolution asks Estrada
() - October 31, 2000 - 12:00am
As the peso plunged to a new record low against the dollar, opposition senators Loren Legarda (Lakas-NUCD) and Raul Roco (Aksyon Demokratiko) filed a Senate resolution yesterday urging President Estrada to resign over the jueteng scandal.

In Senate Resolution 889, Legarda and Roco, a longtime Estrada critic, said although the corruption allegations against the President have yet to be proven, the public and the business community have lost their confidence in Mr. Estrada.

"Resignation is the honorable way for the President. It gives the economy a chance to recover and may restore the people’s confidence in the presidency as an institution," they said in their resolution.

However, the resolution is expected to be promptly shot down in the administration-controlled Senate.

Last Saturday, Roco "unconditionally" joined the growing movement clamoring for Mr. Estrada’s resignation, led by Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He met with Arroyo and other leaders of the united opposition at the Marriot Hotel in Cebu.

Roco said his decision to join Arroyo had the backing of his Aksyon Demokratiko partymates. He said he only joined "for the sole purpose to make Estrada resign."

"We agreed it has gone beyond emergency," he said last Saturday. "There’s a need to replace Estrada now. Unless he quits, the economy will fall completely, the peso will continue to deteriorate. The sooner he resigns, the better for the country."

Arroyo earlier rejected Senate Majority Leader Francisco Tatad’s proposal to share power with Mr. Estrada.

She said yesterday anti-Estrada protests will continue until he steps down, explaining that they have no other choice "but to appeal to his conscience."

Also yesterday, Tatad renewed his call for a possible power-sharing arrangement. "If they cannot share power, the economy will continue to crumble. The only option is for both of them to give up their present positions and pave the way for new elections," he said.

Mr. Estrada had also rejected Tatad’s proposal, but said he was open to talks with the opposition, including former President Corazon Aquino and his predecessor, Fidel Ramos.

Mr. Estrada also turned down a suggestion from pro-administration Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile for a "snap" election, saying he intended to finish his term which ends in 2004.

Enrile said an election will enable the people to decide if Mr. Estrada should stay or go.

Under the Constitution, a special election may be held only if the posts of president and vice president become vacant. Enrile suggested that Mr. Estrada and Arroyo resign to pave the way for an election.

Arroyo and her colleagues in the opposition said no, fearing that the administration would cheat in the polls.

They also said that it would allow Mr. Estrada to remain in office without answering the bribery allegations made by Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis "Chavit" Singson.

Singson accused Mr. Estrada of accepting over P400 million in payoffs from jueteng operators, and taking a P130 million cut from tobacco taxes.

Mr. Estrada is facing an impeachment complaint that appears doomed in the administration-dominated House of Representatives.

Because of that, opposition leaders and anti-Estrada activists believe that only massive protests can topple the President. – Perseus Echeminada, Liberty Dones

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