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MANILA, Philippines - Incumbent Manila mayor Alfredo Lim responds to attacks from his rivals during his campaign launch for re-election.
He calls Estrada a liar, a drunk and a plunderer.
Natashya Gutierrez reports.
ALFREDO LIM, MANILA MAYOR: Nasintensiyahan ba yan ng Sangidanbayan? Anong sintensiya? Habang buhay. At isauli daw yung pera, yung salapi na kinuha sa taong bayan.
(Was he sentenced by Sandiganbayan? What was the sentence? For life. And return the money, the money stolen from the people)
Both the scorching sun and the fiery words make Mayor Alfredo Lim's proclamation rally a heated affair.
Lim doesn't hold back from slamming former president Joseph Estrada who is running against him for mayor of the country's capital.
On stage, he calls Estrada a liar.
On the sidelines, he says Estrada must be drunk to think Manila has decayed under his rule.
LIM: Baka nakainom siya. Kaya ayun ang sinasabi niya. Ang dami niyang problema sa Maynila, eh yan nakikita niyo nagtataasan yung mga buildings, nabubulok ba yan?
(Maybe he's tipsy if he's saying those things. He has so many problems with Manila but you yourselves see the high rise buildings. Is that rotting?)
He outlines his platforms, and refutes all of Estrada's points, saying he has provided Manilenos with accessible education and healthcare.
LIM: Tayo lang and may 6 na ospital sa higit na 140 lungsod dito sa buong bansa. Dalawang kolehiyo natin, libre, zero tuition, walang bayad sa registration, library, laboratory, athletics, wala, zero, kahit isang pera. Ang anak ninyo makakatapos sa kolehiyo, magiging profesyonal.
(We're the only one with 6 hospitals in over 140 cities in the whole country. Two of our colleges are free, zero tuition, free reigstration, registration, library, laboratory, athletics, none, zero, not a single cent. Your children witll finish college and become professionals)
The war over Manila is expected to be one of the hottest local races come May.
Estrada says he will restore Manila's glory if elected, but Lim is bent on serving his third and final term.
The 83-year-old Lim is confident of his chances and boasts of President Benigno Aquino III's endorsement.
Lim, a longtime ally of the Aquino family, enjoys the President's support after the former supported his mother's presidency.
Aquino says Lim proved his loyalty the people when he sided with his mother over dictator Ferdinand Marcos during the People Power Revolution.
He does not criticize Lim's opponents but makes it clear he trusts the re-electionistBENIGNO AQUINO III, PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES: Bakit mo aayusin kung ayos? Bakit mo papalitan kung magaling? Wala po tayong sinasabi sa mga kalaban ni Mayor Lim pero malinaw po sa pamumuno ni Mayor Lim sa Maynila, hindi po tayo kailanman nahirapan maikpagugnayan sa kanya at nangunguna siya sa paglilingkod sa mamamayan.
(Why fix what isn't broken? Why change if it's good? We're not saying anything negative about the opponents of Mayor Lim but its clear that with his governance of Manila, we have never had a hard time coordinating with him and he has put service of the country above all else)
The rally of Team PNoy gathers over 7,000 supporters clad in yellow but it is nowhere close to "Easterada Sunday," the event of Estrada and his slate a day earlier with 75,000 attendees.
Estrada is allied with the opposition, the United Nationalist Alliance.
But the number that matters is the 950,000 registered voters.
Will the city choose an insanely popular former president who finished second to Aquino in 2010, or will it side with a well-loved sitting President and his bet?
Manila isn't the only thing at stake.
A Lim victory is an important political statement for the President, symbolic of his influence not just in the next 3 years but arguably over the 2016 presidential elections.
Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Manila. - Rappler.com
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