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Estrada men tried to withdraw gov't cash after ouster.

MANILA, Jan. 25 Kyodo

Officials under former President Joseph Estrada tried to withdraw over 100 million pesos (about $2 million) in state funds from banks Monday, but were foiled following tips from informants, presidential Chief of Staff Renato Corona said Thursday.

The accounts are secret intelligence funds principally for the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force, said Corona, chief of staff to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

''They were going to clean out the accounts,'' he said.

Corona said signatories to the secret funds in several accounts in various banks apparently appropriated bank checks when Estrada was unseated Saturday and tried to cash them Monday.

The banks involved are the government-owned Land Bank of the Philippines and several private banks that Corona declined to identify.

But Corona said he was informed of the plans to withdraw the money and wrote letters Sunday to concerned banks, asking them to freeze the funds following the change in government.

''We already got reports from the branches of these banks that there were people coming, trying to cash checks payable to cash. That's why we knew,'' Corona added.

Arroyo was sworn in Saturday after the Supreme Court declared the presidency vacant, in effect unseating Estrada.

The court decision followed a ''people power'' revolt, the withdrawal of support for Estrada by the military and police and resignations by his cabinet officials.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Jan 29, 2001
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