|Ousted from the presidency in 2001, Estrada is hoping to score a stunning political comeback [EPA]
A long-serving town mayor and popular movie star, Joseph Estrada was elected president in 1998 riding on his cinematic reputation as a hero of the poor.
But despite winning by the largest margin ever, in 2001, midway through his 6-year term, Estrada was removed from power by a middle-class uprising backed by the military after being accused of massive corruption.
He faced trial and, after years under house-arrest, in 2007 he became the only national politician to be convicted of plunder.
He was immediately pardoned by Gloria Arroyo, his successor and now the outgoing Philippine president, and maintains his innocence.
Now, he says, he is fighting to reclaim what was taken away from him – his right to serve as president.
Estrada is still a popular choice, and his campaign has eaten into support for Senator Manny Villar, pushing both men into a contest for second place behind Senator Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III.
A motion has been filed to disqualify Estrada from the race based on the rule that a president can only serve one term, but no decision has yet been made.
Estrada, now aged 73, insists that as he never finished his full term of office, he remains eligible for the post.
But recapturing the popularity that swept him to power more than a decade ago has proved elusive and he has lagged well behind Aquino in the polls.
Estrada himself however remains optimistic he can pull off what would be a stunning political comeback, and told reporters in the final week of campaigning that his own polling showed he was fast gaining ground on Aquino.
"Aquino's numbers have reached a plateau, Villar's are on a nosedive, while mine are on a steady, upward trajectory," he said.