Uproar in Philippines – President faces allegations

A nun’s accusation that President Joseph Estrada of the Philippines of diverted $10.5 million from a health care fund has caused his approval ratings to plummet, the Associated Press reports.

Sister Christine Tan does not allege the diverted funds enriched the Estrada family.

Instead, she claims the money was funneled into charitable programs to further the family’s political interests.

For example, the First Lady supported a health project to distribute 200 ambulances that bear the name of her son Jinggoy, a town mayor who is expected to run for Congress.

Estrada’s approval rating has plummeted from 78 percent last June to 31 percent last month as economic growth in the Philippines trails other Asian countries, AP reports.

“For the poor Filipinos I work with every day, life under Estrada’s administration is returning to what it was like 20 years ago – with daily worries about food, work, and safety,” the Rev. Nishimoto, a Japanese priest who has worked in the Philippines for nearly 30 years, told AP.

Unlike Ferdinand Marcos, who was accused of stealing billions of dollars during his tenure, few believe that Estrada is embezzling funds.

Instead, critics claim he is an ineffective manager who has failed to outline a plan to reduce poverty.

Estrada claims lack of resources, not poor management, has weakened his administration, AP says.

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