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Angered by what they describe as the "death of truth and justice", thousands of indignant Filipinos, with the blessing of Roman Catholic and Protestant church leaders, are taking to the streets in a protracted campaign to remove their president, Joseph "Erap" Estrada.

On the night of January 16, just hours after the Senate voted down a proposal to open an envelope said to contain proof that President Estrada was corrupt, protesters gathered at various points in the capital and other cities.

Twenty-four hours later the crowd that had gathered at a historic shrine in the capital had swelled to become the biggest gathering yet to call for the president's removal.

"Stay here until all evil is conquered by good, and all corruption is conquered by integrity. Stay here and keep watch," the nation's most influential cleric, Cardinal Jaime Sin, Archbishop of Manila, told the crowd of 200 000 gathered outside the shrine on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, commonly known as the EDSA shrine. The cardinal's words signaled the beginning of what has been dubbed People Power II, a repetition of the popular uprising that toppled President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

Graffiti hastily written in many places in Manila proclaims that "the fight is now in the streets." At the same time, the Couples of Christ, a mainly middle-class Catholic organization, has placed full-page advertisements in newspapers with the heading "Guilty", demanding Estrada's dismissal. The advertisements call on "all patriots" to converge on the EDSA shrine and on meeting places in other cities to hold a 24-hour vigil in the next few days "until President Estrada resigns".

The advertisements include a quote from Paul's letter to the Romans (13:11): "And do this because you know ...

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January 2001

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