Erap’s Manila ‘practically debt-free’ for 2nd straight year
“Nakabayad na po tayo ng mga utang. Maliban sa ilang kaduda-dudang bayarin ng nakaraang administrasyon, we have fully paid the P4.44 billion obligations of the city,” Estrada said in his second state of the city address on Wednesday, July 29, at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
(We have already paid our debts. Other than the dubious payments made by the previous administration, we have fully paid the P4.44 billion obligations of the city.)
Estrada had been blaming his predecessor, former Mayor Alfredo Lim, for leaving behind a bankrupt city. Estrada said the general funds left by the previous administration were not even enough to pay the city hall’s monthly salaries.
Erap attributed this success to a steady rise in the overall collection from real property taxes and business permit fees. Just 5 months after he was elected as Manila mayor in 2013, Estrada raised real property taxes and other government fees.
“Madali pong sumigaw sa kalsada ng pagkontra sa buwis. Pero ang hindi po ipinapaliwanag sa ating mga kababayan ay ang kahalagahan ng taxes para sa pag-unlad ng isang lungsod,” Estrada explained.
(It’s easy to protest in the streets against the increase in taxes. What they fail to explain to the public is that taxes are important to the city’s progress.)
Peace and order still top priority
The city police also boasted its effective campaign to improve peace and order by arresting Jonathan Bassey, the most wanted criminal in Manila who faced 7 counts of murder charges.
Manila Police District director Chief Superintendent Rolando Nana said they had arrested 94 out 110 most wanted persons in Manila.
With the help of Filipino-Chinese businessmen and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, the city government provided at least 27 police vehicles and financial assistance to Manila cops, according to Estrada.
Estrada, however, did not mention the allegations concerning the recent police “rubout,” which resulted in the death of a suspected robber. It was caught in closed circuit television footages on July 14.
The mayor said in an earlier interview that “justice must still be served to those who were guilty,” but asked the public to be more understanding of the policemen who dealt with a notorious criminal.
Modernization of public markets
The former president slammed critics of the modernization of public markets through a joint venture agreement between the city and Marketlife Management and Leasing Corporation (MMLC).
“No to privitization ang sigaw ng ilang pulitiko. May kaibahan po ang privitization at joint ventures. Hindi po namin ipinagbibili ang mga palengke gaya ng mga sinasabi ng mga namumulitika,” Estrada said.
(Some politicians say no to privitization. There is a difference between privitization and joint ventures. We are not selling the marketplace like other politicians say.)
Some 500 vendors affected by the demolition of Quinta market in Quiapo, Manila on Monday, July 27, feared that they would be driven out of business if a drastic increase in rent will be imposed after the renovation.
Estrada, however, gave guarantees that the city government will still prioritize the welfare and business of the current market vendors after the construction of the new marketplace.
Manila’s 5th District Representative Amado Bagatsing and Councilor Arnold Atienza, who had announced their intentions to run as mayor and vice mayor respectively, said they were considering filing a plunder charge against Estrada for entering an “unconstitutional” joint venture agreement.
“Huwag po tayong maniwala sa mga pinanganak na sinungaling,” Estrada said in his speech. (Do not believe those who were born liars.) – Rappler.com