Estrada aides deny seeking planes

MANILA, Reuters

The Philippine presidential office said on Friday that President Joseph Estrada was still in the country and denied that two aircraft had been requisitioned to fly out the embattled leader.

“The president is still at the presidential residence and that is contrary to rumours that he has already fled the palace or has fled the country even,” acting presidential press secretary Mike Toledo told reporters. He also dismissed as untrue information from an airline source that the palace had asked for two Philippine Airlines Airbus-340 aircraft to be on standby for flying to the United States. Asked if there were planes on standby to fly the president to San Francisco, Toledo told reporters: “No truth to that. This talk about asylum for the president and members of his family, they are not true and no arrangement are being made for any airlifting of the president or any member of his first family.”