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From The Global Corruption Report 2008

Philippines: Corruption Timeline

February 1986 — The 20-year reign of Ferdinand E. Marcos ends when Corazon Aquino claims the presidency. On the evening of Feb. 25, Marcos and his wife Imelda, along with 55 of his associates, flee the presidential palace aboard U.S. Air Force helicopters. Ferdinand Marcos will die in exile in Hawaii in 1989. The new government claims Marcos looted billions of dollars from the country during his time in power.

December 1989 — Aquino's term as president is plagued by poverty, lack of military support, a weak economy, and seven coup attempts, the last of which involves approximately 3,000 troops and elite forces that attack military bases and bomb the presidential palace. The government stops the coup with the help of the United States. The Philippine Senate grants Aquino emergency powers for six months.

July 1990 — A U.S. court acquits Imelda Marcos of all corruption charges.

June 1992 — Fidel V. Ramos wins the presidency.

May 1993 — The Ramos administration and Marcos' family attempt to strike a deal over distribution of assets the family allegedly stole. Ramos squelches the deal because of a pending class action lawsuit in Hawaii filed by 10,000 victims alleging human rights abuses under Marcos, including torture, illegal detention, disappearances, and summary killings. The victims prevail in February 1994, winning US$1.2 billion.

September 1993 — Imelda Marcos, who moved back to the Philippines in 1991, is convicted on corruption charges and sentenced to 18 to 24 years in prison. She is released on bail pending appeal.

April 1995 — The Public Estates Authority (PEA) enters into a joint venture agreement with the Amari Coastal Bay and Development Corp. to reclaim and develop several hundred hectares of coastal and island property. In 1998, a Senate committee investigation reveals that the consortium led by Amari paid over 5 billion pesos (US$100 million) in kickbacks and bribes to acquire the land, which the PEA sold at a substantial discount.

May 1995 — Imelda Marcos, still out on bail, is elected to the House of Representatives from her home province of Leyte.

November 1995 — Four senior police officials, including Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) leader Panfilo Lacson, are charged along with 23 junior officers with murdering 11 members of the Kuratong Baleleng Gang while they were in police custody. The Kuratong Baleleng Gang was created by the Philippine military in 1986 as an anti-communism vigilante group to help combat communist rebels, but later became involved in organized crime.

March 1996 — President Ramos fires Health Secretary Hilarion Ramiro for allegedly demanding kickbacks from medical kit suppliers. Ramiro, who is charged with attempted bribery and two counts of graft, becomes the sixth minister forced to resign over the last year.

January 1998 — Switzerland's highest court orders more than 25 billion pesos (US$500 million) held in Swiss bank accounts by the late Ferdinand Marcos to be returned to the Philippines and placed in escrow. The money would be awarded to the Philippine government only if Imelda Marcos is convicted of obtaining it illegally. The Supreme Court upholds one of two counts in her 1993 conviction but allows her one more appeal.

March 1998 — While running for president, Imelda Marcos, who is still free on bail, claims to have more than 40 billion pesos (US$800 million) in foreign bank accounts that she will distribute to the poor if elected.

May 1998 — Ex-movie star Joseph Estrada is elected president on a pro-poor, anti-corruption platform.

May 1998 — Graft charges are filed against former Transportation secretary Amado Lagdameo and seven other government officials for improprieties surrounding the Amari deal. Days later, former PEA officials Wainwright Rivera, Justiniano Montano IV and Arturo Trinidad, former chief government corporate counsel Oscar Garcia and several former Amari executives are arrested.

October 1998 — The Supreme Court overturns Imelda Marcos' 1993 conviction due to lack of evidence and violations of "rules of due process." Other legal actions relating to her late husband are pending.

January 1999 — Publishing company agent Mary Ann Maslog goes to the presidential palace with a box containing 3 million pesos (US$60,000) in an apparent attempt to secure a textbook contract by bribing government officials. Maslog signs an affidavit saying she intended to give the money to officials, but later claims she meant to give them a box containing coffee mugs rather than cash. Senate committees investigate the incident, but the case is eventually closed with no serious consequences for any of the officials involved.

March 1999 — The murder case against PAOCTF leader Panfilo Lacson and 25 police colleagues is dismissed after witnesses recant their testimony, reportedly due to police intimidation and bribery. After Lacson resigns in January 2001, new witnesses come forward to corroborate the charges. PAOCTF is disbanded in April 2001, dogged by allegations that it was involved in murder, kidnapping, and illegal wiretapping.

October 1999 — An official investigating committee led by former Senator Rene Saguisag recommends that Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno and several colleagues be prosecuted for graft. The committee accuses Puno of pressuring Motorola to steer a portion of a contract to supply the Philippine National Police with hand-held radios to a firm controlled by Puno's relatives. Puno resigns shortly thereafter. Puno is indicted on graft charges in a case involving a government drug-testing contract in 2000, but is cleared by the anti-graft court in 2003.

March 2000 — An investigation into alleged stock manipulation by BW Resources Corp., an online gaming company whose chairman was an associate of President Estrada, prompts mass resignations at the stock exchange. The resignations are triggered by the Securities and Exchange Commission's fraud chief, Ruben Almadro, who accuses the government of undermining his investigation, which implicated eight stock brokers and the businessman with ties to Estrada. The scandal prompts the passage of a stronger securities law later that year.

October 2000 — Thousands of protesters march in the streets of Manila demanding that Estrada step down. Business groups, Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, two former presidents and Estrada's own vice president also call for his resignation. Louis Singson, a former Estrada insider, accuses the president of illegally amassing more than 547 million pesos (US$11 million) and appointing friends and relatives to government posts.

December 2000 — Estrada's impeachment trial opens in the Senate after the House votes for impeachment in November. Details of secret banks accounts, numerous mistresses, and extravagant mansions are broadcast five hours a day in what is dubbed "the trial of the century."

January 2001 —Estrada's impeachment trial is suspended after senators loyal to Estrada refuse to examine evidence against him. Large street protests take place and the military withdraws its support for the president. Following months of protests, President Estrada resigns. His vice president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, is sworn in as president.

Shortly after taking office, the Arroyo government approves a controversial project: a 23 billion peso (US$470 million) contract awarded to the Argentine firm Industrias Metalurgicas Pescarmona Sociedad Anonima (IMPSA) to rehabilitate and run a hydroelectric power plant in Laguna.

April 2001 — Prosecutors arrest Estrada and charge him with stealing more than 4 billion pesos (US$80 million) in state funds while in office-a crime punishable by death.

February 2002 — The Philippines ombudsman faces an impeachment motion for corruption. Although the motion does not pass, the incident instills doubt over the agency's credibility and effectiveness.

April 2002 — The Supreme Court's first division clears the way for the indictment of former Vice President Salvador "Doy" Laurel on graft charges in connection with the Centennial Expo scandal in 1998, rejecting his argument that he could not be held liable because he was not a public official. Former President Ramos had been implicated and cleared in the scandal, in which the contract for an Expo construction project was not opened to public bidding.

November 2002 — Members of the Public Estates Authority board resign while the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission and ombudsman conduct investigations into alleged overpricing of the controversial President Diosdado Macapagal Avenue highway construction project. Board member Sulficio Tagud Jr. accuses his colleagues of inflating the cost of one portion of the project.

April 2003 — The Supreme Court reopens the Kuratong Baleleng murder case against Panfilo Lacson. When the case is dismissed by a regional court in November, the government appeals and files an official complaint against the judge, alleging she falsified a court transcript.

July 2003 — Ending the 17-year dispute over the Marcos fortune, the Supreme Court awards the government 32.5 billion pesos (US$650 million) in frozen bank accounts.

August 2003 — Senator Panfilo Lacson accuses First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo of laundering campaign contributions and stashing the money in bank accounts under the alias Jose Pidal. Arroyo's younger brother, Ignacio, later claims he is Jose Pidal, but refuses to answer the Senate ethics committee's questions.

August 2003 — The Justice Department announces it will cooperate with Swiss officials in an investigation of Swiss bank accounts allegedly set up by former Justice Secretary Hernando "Nani" Perez, who is suspected of money laundering.

June 2004 — President Arroyo is declared the winner of presidential elections.

October 2004 — President Arroyo orders an investigation into possible corruption involving the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), the country's state pension fund. GSIS President Winston Garcia, who is accused of approving millions in improper personal loans, is the first official to be probed.

March 2005 — Journalist and anti-corruption crusader Marilyn Garcia Esperat is shot dead in front of her home. Her articles in the weekly "Midland Review" condemned local corruption and accused the Department of Agriculture's local office of embezzlement and other illegal acts.

May 2005 — President Arroyo hires renowned Hong Kong anti-corruption expert Tony Kwok Wan-Mai to be her special anti-corruption advisor.

July - September 2005 — President Arroyo, her popularity at an all-time low, faces pressure to resign over allegations of election fraud. She apologizes to the country for phoning an election official during the run-up to the 2004 poll, but denies any wrongdoing. In September she survives an opposition attempt to impeach her.

2006 — Reporters Without Borders deems the Philippines the second-most dangerous country for journalists, after Iraq. Many journalists are murdered for investigating corruption or for publishing critiques of the government.

February 2006 — President Arroyo declares a state of emergency after the army claims to have foiled a coup attempt. Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, leader of the army's elite Scout Rangers, is suspected of leading a plot to use rallies marking the 20th anniversary of the ouster of President Ferdinand Marcos to launch a coup. Schools throughout the country are closed down and checkpoints are set up around Manila. Thousands of protesters defying the emergency order in Manila clash with riot police.

June 2006 — The Philippines abolishes the death penalty after pressure from nongovernmental groups.

July 2006 — President Arroyo signs an agreement with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which will help fund anti-corruption efforts within the state's financial institutions.

August 2006 — President Arroyo survives an impeachment attempt over charges of election fraud, corruption and human rights abuses.

January 2007 — In the past year, 10 journalists have been killed in the Philippines.

February 2007 — A government-backed commission links political killings to soldiers of the Philippine military. A rights group says 830 extrajudicial killings have taken place since President Arroyo came to power in 2001. The report finds no evidence that the killings had been politically sanctioned. It does, however, claim that there is evidence linking army's former head of counterinsurgency, Gen. Jovito Palparan, and others to some of the killings. On Feb. 18, Hernani Pastolero, the editor of a weekly newspaper, is shot outside of his home.

May 2007 — Parliamentary and local elections take place. More than 100 are killed in violence during three months of campaigning, including several high-ranking elections and government officials . The army is deployed in many areas amid fears that private militias and rebel groups will disrupt voting. BBC correspondents report that vote-buying is rampant as polling takes place and that many people wait until the end of the day to negotiate the price of their votes.

July 18, 2007 — Philippine Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez tells reporters that in certain circumstances the Justice Ministry will allow the government to wiretap journalists. Although Gonzalez appreciates that journalists interviews and sources are sacred, he nevertheless makes the remark that they can be wiretapped if there is sufficient basis or if they are being suspected of co-mingling with terror suspects. Local press freedom groups say the defined measures of this law are broad and vague, and it is unclear whether journalists could be considered accomplices to terrorism under the new law if they merely interview those considered by the government to be terror suspects.

July 26, 2007 — Raynato S. Puno, the chief justice of the Philippines Supreme Court, tells a delegation that he will seek justice in the unsolved killings and disappearances of journalists and will use his authority to protect freedom of speech. 32 journalists have been killed in Philippines since 1992, making it the world's fifth deadliest nation for journalists for that time period. Under the 1987 constitution, the Supreme Court has the power to "promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights".

August 2007 — Twenty-six Filipino soldiers die following a conflict with rebel groups.

September 2007 — Ex-President Joseph Estrada is convicted on corruption charges and receives a life sentence in jail. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo pardons Estrada in October.

November 2007 — One person is killed and six are injured when a bomb explodes in a shopping center. Two terrorist groups claim responsibility for the attack.

March 2008 — The Millennium Challenge Corporation deems the Philippines eligible for more assistance, stemming from the nation's efforts over the past two years to combat corruption.

April 2008 — President Arroyo signs the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT ). On April 7, publisher Benefredo Acabal dies after suffering several gunshot wounds.

May 2008 — Courts indefinitely delay the trial of two suspects accused of murdering journalist Marlene Garcia-Esperat in 2005.

Global Integrity uses a Creative Commons licence, unless noted here:

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