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MANILA, Philippines – The feud between Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno gets uglier, with Lim vowing to resign on one condition.
“’Pag napatunayan mong utos ko ang pag-aresto sa iyo, magre-resign ako. ‘Pag hindi, ikaw ang mag-resign,” Lim told Moreno or Francisco Domagoso in real life. (If you prove I ordered your arrest, I will resign. If not, then you resign.)
After the flag ceremony in Manila on Monday, February 18, Lim addressed city employees and discussed Moreno’s arrest last Saturday, February 16, for alleged illegal gambling.
Moreno and 5 Manila city councilors were arrested after sponsoring a bingo game in Santa Cruz, Manila. A scuffle broke out and the accused were brought to the Manila precinct 3. They were released after about 12 hours for lack of evidence.
In his speech, Lim again denied ordering Moreno’s arrest but commended Manila police for “upholding the law.” Moreno has accused Lim of ordering his arrest, crying political harassment.
In a press conference with Lim on Monday, Manila police officers also flatly denied that Lim ordered them to arrest Moreno. In emotional accounts, the police also denied involvement in Manila politics.
Lim also took a swipe at Moreno and his running mate, former President Joseph Estrada. Once a Lim protégé, Moreno last year switched to Estrada’s political party, Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP). Lim and Estrada are also former allies.
The mayor said, “Hinamon ni Isko si [Quiapo station commander Col Ricardo] Layug kaya siya inaresto tapos nagda-drama siya ngayong na aping-api.” (He challenged Col Layug that’s why he was arrested and then now, he will act like he is a poor victim.)
In an earlier statement, Lim said that based on the police report submitted to him, Moreno dared Layug to arrest him and even asked for a “bolilyo” containing the bingo numbers to be brought to him, picked a number and had it announced. Lim said tt was at this point that Layug said he had to be stopped.
Lim also accused Estrada of cursing the Manila policemen.
The Manila mayor insists Moreno and the councilors violated the law by sponsoring bingo games. He plans to ask the Commission on Elections to check if Moreno’s camp violated any election law.
Despite Lim’s statement, Moreno is convinced it was the mayor who had him arrested.
“Pagtingin niyo ‘pag sinabi nilang may order, kanino kaya nanggalaing? Isa lang naman pwede mag-order,” Lim said in an interview on ANC last Saturday. (If they say there is an order to arrest me, who do you think it came from? Only one person can order my arrest.)
Moreno has revealed he plans to take legal action against those who arrested him.
“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.
Contrary to Lim’s statement, Moreno insists that sponsoring bingo games is not illegal. He cited a Marcos-era executive order that excludes bingo from the anti-illegal gambling law.
Moreno said he told police, “Bingo was classified as parlor games, just a fanfare. That’s the category of bingo so I said, there’s no violation. Why are you harassing us?”
‘No election violation’
The vice mayor has also said that he cannot be accused of violating election laws because the campaign period for local candidates has yet to start on March 29.
“If I may quote [Comelec Chairman Sixto] Brillantes, may pasumpa-sumpa pa ang kabila sa peace covenant, wala rin nama pala. Walang pananakot, walang dahas na gagamitin, pasumpa-sumpa, ito ang natamasa namin. Sabi ni Chairman Brillantes, kayong mga local official, lahat ng ginagawa ng local official, wala pa yan because you’re not yet a candidate. You’ll be a candidate on March 29.” (If I may quote Chairman Brillantes who spoke during the peace covenant signing, they even took an oath and it’s now useless. They took an oath not to intimidate, use violence, they took an oath, look what happened to us. Chairman Brilalntes said, you local officials, all that you do is not yet counted because you’re not yet a candidate.)
Moreno has also questioned why police arrested him when he has been sponsoring bingo games for the past 5 years. He said he earned the police and city government’s ire after he switched to Estrada’s side.
Lim refuted this in a radio interview on Sunday, February 17.
“Kasinungalingan ‘yan. Nagulat nga ako nung sinabi niya na limang taon na daw niyang ginagawa eh. Wala silang ginagawang bingo. May bingong nangyayari doon sa mga pamilya, sa bahay-bahay. ‘Yung ina-allow ‘yung sa pamilya lang, pero ito open to the public,” Lim said. (That’s a lie. I was surprised when he said they’ve been doing it for 5 years. They have not. There’s only bingo in the houses. That’s the only one allowed, private bingo but this one is public.)
Moreno’s arrest fuels the already heated political climate in Manila ahead of the start of the campaign period for local candidates.
Running under the Liberal Party, Lim will go head to head against Estrada of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). The two had a falling out after Lim supported Estrada’s ouster in 2001. The two later reconciled but again parted ways after Lim was unceremoniously kicked out of the PMP.
Moreno is running against a fellow actor, Manila Councilor Lou Veloso. – with reports from Ayee Macaraig/Rappler.com