MANILA, Philippines – A defiant Manila Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno cried political harassment after police arrested him Saturday, February 16, in Manila over alleged bingo operations in the area.
“We will seek justice. We will not allow tyranny to prevail in Manila. We will fight corner by corner, street by street, barangay by barangay in Manila,” Moreno told Rappler in a phone interview.
Moreno believes that incumbent Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim is behind the arrest, and that the police are up to fabricate charges against him.
“What’s the case? I’ve been here for almost 4 hours but the police are not telling me what charges I have been arrested for. They keep on saying, ‘Utos lang po’,” Moreno said. (Just following instructions.)
Moreno is the runningmate of former president Joseph Estrada who is seeking the mayoral seat of Manila.
Candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance, Moreno and Estrada are up against Liberal Party candidate and incumbent Mayor Alfredo Lim and his runningmate Lou Veloso.
Just yesterday, Friday, February 15, Estrada and Lim, signed a peace covenant then shook hands at the Manila Police District (MPD) headquarters. Moreno and Veloso also signed the peace covenant.
Allies before — Lim was appointed local government secretary under the Estrada administration — Lim’s proceeding to Edsa, when there was a clamor for the ouster of Estrada as president, was regarded as betrayal. He lost his bid for Manila mayor in 2001.
In August 2008, Lim parted ways with Estrada when he (Lim) resigned as head of the former president’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP). Lim was removed as president of the party by virtue of a PMP executive committee resolution, and was replaced by Estrada, who was PMP chairman then.
When asked to comment on allegations linking him to illegal gambling, Moreno said he could not be violating Presidential Decree No. 1602, which prescribes penalties for illegal gambling.
Moreno explained that the bingo activity could not be considered illegal, claiming that no wager was at stake or was made.
SPO3 Rowell Robles of the Manila Police District (MPD) earlier alleged that the bingo activity appeared to be gambling.
“Wala kaming nakitang gifts doon kaya talagang may involved na pera,” Robles said. (We didn’t see any gifts. Therefore, there was money involved.)
Moreno declared, “We will fight him (Lim). It was a raffle. No money was involved.”
Moreno, who underwent a medical check-up at around 8:30 pm at the Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital, said he was hurt when the police arrested him.
Moreno said he suffered bruises on his left and right arms. He added he fears for his life, given the culture of impunity in the country’s capital.
“You know that in Manila, suspects under custody — like suspected robbers — get killed after being arrested,” Moreno said, alluding to Lim’s “Dirty Harry” moniker. Lim was called “Dirty Harry” because of his tough anti-crime policies that focused on drug pushers and runners during his first two terms in office as Manila mayor starting in 1995.
Moreno said that if he will continue to be detained at the MPD Station 3, “So be it. Wala nang batas sa Manila. Sila ang batas.” (Manila is lawless. They are the law.)
A little over a month away, the campaign period for local elections which starts on March 29, already promises to be a heated one in Manila. – Rappler.com