What do a convicted child rapist, gun smuggler, fugitive from justice, alleged drug lord, toilet-humour comedian, multiple adulterer, basketball player and policeman accused of summary killings have in common? All have been knowingly voted into high political office in the Philippines. Typical is the case of congressman Mark Jimenez, who has 47 standing arrest warrants in the United States for alleged tax evasion, conspiracy, wire fraud, false statements and illegal campaign contributions. If convicted on all counts, he would face more than 100 years in jail. Last year, dogged by a US government request for his extradition, Mr Jimenez ran for - and won a congressional seat in Manila. Last Thursday, a million residents who had voted him into office launched a campaign to prevent his arrest. Mr Jimenez won only weeks after his political patron, then-president Joseph Estrada, was arrested to stand trial for plunder and other charges. Those who deplored the excesses of the Estrada administration had hoped his removal would make voters more discriminating in their choice of leaders. Those hopes were dashed in the election of May last year. Along with Mr Jimenez, convicted child rapist Romeo Jalosjos rejoined congress. He was expelled only recently, but a special election for his replacement saw his sister win the seat. Catholic priest Ferdinand Abuyuan lamented that no amount of voter education seemed to work. He heads the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting in Sipalay, a city in Negros Occidental province. The bishops in the province even prepared a guide for rating candidates. In the end many voters were swayed by the amount they were promised in exchange for their votes, the priest said. Taxi driver Rene Marquez, 26, says the likes of Mr Jimenez and Jalosjos continue to be elected into positions of power 'because the majority have deranged thinking, that's why they elect those with similar mindset'. In his latest book on his ex-boss Estrada, Aprodicio Laquian said the voting trend was not about to change. Dr Laquian is a lecturer in political science at Canada's University of British Columbia. His book is called The Erap Tragedy: Tales from the Snake Pit. Dr Laquian, whom Estrada sacked as his chief of staff for joking about the latter's overnight drinking binges, noted that Estrada won for the wrong reasons. 'Many poor people from the barrios and the slums probably recognised Erap's [Estrada's] excesses and transgressions as things they would have loved to do themselves. They tended to overlook these because they believed that his heart was in the right place,' he wrote. Mr Jimenez gained widespread popularity in Manila by declaring himself for the masses and following this up with generous handouts for funeral, baptism and hospital expenses for voters. The opposition, aligned with Estrada, is about to revert to this formula to regain control of the presidency in 2004. Last Friday, former opposition senator Juan Ponce Enrile said it hoped to field for president Fernando Poe Junior, an actor known as 'the king of spaghetti westerns', and Estrada's long-time friend. That Mr Poe had never held public office was not a problem, Mr Enrile said, because his heart was 'for the masses'.