50,000 March in Protest as Impeachment Trial Starts

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MANILA, Philippines, DEC. 10, 2000 (
The archbishop of Manila is among the prominent Filipinos calling for the resignation of President Joseph Estrada, as a Senate probe of corruption began.

A $2.7 million check, signed by the president, was presented as evidence, as the Senate´s impeachment trial for Estrada began last Thursday. Outside the Senate, about 50,000 people convoked by the Church called for his resignation.

Estrada is accused of having amassed a fortune by pocketing commissions from gambling. Lawyers have described him as a thief, swindler and the «chief of all chiefs of gambling.»

Attorney Sergio Apostol said: «We will demonstrate the existence of a criminal association directed from the highest office in the land.»

Assistant Attorney Joker Arroyo brought the check signed by Estrada under a false name, which was used to buy a luxury chalet for former actress Laarni Enriquez, whom Estrada himself says is the mother of three of his children.

Meanwhile, the «Jericho March,» organized by the Catholic Church, gathered outside Our Lady of Help Church, and heard former President Cory Aquino, current Vice President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Cardinal Jaime Sin, archbishop of Manila. The march is named after the biblical passage when Joshua led the Israelites in battle and captured the city.

«Our heroes did not offer their own lives so that we could be conquered by the forces of avarice and corruption,» Arroyo said. The vice president would automatically become president if Estrada is forced to resign.

Following a Mass, concelebrated by Cardinal Sin and seven bishops, the «Jericho March» walked peacefully through Manila´s streets until it reached the Senate.

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