Follow my lead in making personal sacrifice: ex-president Emboldened former president Joseph Estrada yesterday placed newspaper advertisements asking President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo to step down, taking his campaign to oust her to a new level. Similar appeals have been issued by key religious and political leaders, as well as the jailed Estrada's supporters. Estrada's half-page adverts did not name Mrs Arroyo, but the message was clear as he urged 'today's national leaders' to make 'a personal sacrifice' similar to his. In 2001, 'I ... made the supreme sacrifice of leaving Malacanang Palace,' he said, 'to prevent blood from being spilled in the streets.' Among the publications to carry the ads was the top-selling Philippine Daily Inquirer, which has been highly critical of Estrada and which his business allies once tried to shut down with an advertising boycott. The signed statement was subtle and sober, perhaps in order to project himself as statesmanlike, which is so unlike his straight-shooting, colourful persona. Recent developments have helped spur something of a political rehabilitation for Estrada in the public eye, while Mrs Arroyo's image has suffered. Last weekend, former president Corazon Aquino apologised publicly for helping oust Estrada in 2001 in a military-backed 'people power' revolt. 'I plead guilty to the fact that I thought GMA (Mrs Arroyo) would be a better alternative,' Mrs Aquino said. Earlier, leaked risk analyses made by US embassy officials showed Estrada had not been written off politically even after nearly five years of being incarcerated on plunder charges. The diplomats still considered him 'a viable opposition figure', while they criticised Mrs Arroyo. Placing newspaper ads is Estrada's way of announcing his determination to play a role in the final settlement of the crisis swirling around Mrs Arroyo over allegations of election fraud. Instead of dying down, street protests to pressure Mrs Arroyo are increasing in frequency and in their militancy. The military is also becoming more impatient, warned Senate Defence Committee chairman Rodolfo Biazon as the rank and file complains of a double standard in military justice and promotions. Mrs Arroyo's political support continues to erode. On Thursday, former president Fidel Ramos, who is credited with saving the Arroyo government from falling three months ago, signalled in no uncertain terms that his support for her had an expiry date. He told top business leaders that she had until April to make a 'graceful exit', when a new election will be held under a parliamentary form of government. The following day, two prominent, rival religious leaders issued their first-ever joint statement, in which they asked Mrs Arroyo to step down from her post. Mike Velarde, founder of the Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai, and Erano Manalo, head of the breakaway Iglesia ni Cristo, said: 'We believe [the crisis could still be resolved] through peaceful and constitutional means, if only they [administration and opposition leaders] will offer to sacrifice a portion of what they believe are theirs to hold on to, for the sake our suffering people.' Yesterday, Mr Velarde suggested the constitution be amended to allow snap presidential polls to resolve the crisis.