MANILA, Philippines – Former Philippine president Joseph Estrada, deposed by the military 11 years ago halfway into his term, said Thursday he wants to become the city mayor of the capital Manila.
After losing by a few million votes to incumbent Filipino leader Benigno Aquino in his second bid for the presidency in the 2010 election, the still hugely popular ex-movie star says lowering his sights may be the way to go.
“I am thinking about it. Right now the odds are 50-50 that I will run,” he told AFP in a telephone interview on his 75th birthday.
“I am still healthy and I can still serve, there is nothing wrong with that. I started out as a mayor and so I will likely finish my career as a mayor.”
Estrada believes he has what it takes to run the country’s main city.
He parlayed his show business fame playing the champion of the downtrodden to enter politics as a town mayor in a Manila suburb in the 1960s.
He was later elected senator and then vice president, before being overwhelmingly elected as the country’s leader in 1998.
His presidency however was cut short nearly halfway through his six-year term by a bloodless revolt sparked by allegations of massive corruption.
After a six-year trial during which he was put on house arrest, he was convicted of corruption in 2007 but was quickly pardoned by his successor, Gloria Arroyo.
Throughout his legal troubles and despite his conviction, Estrada retained his massive popularity by playing the role of the underdog that many in this impoverished country sympathised with.
The self-confessed former womaniser and heavy drinker has always maintained that his ouster was a product of a conspiracy between the political elite, the influential Catholic church and the rich who disliked his populist ideas.
He set to prove this by contesting the presidency in 2010, where he surprisingly placed second in a field of nine candidates.
Estrada on Thursday said he no longer entertained thoughts of running again for a national post, but stressed his strong showing in 2010 indicated the public still wanted him to serve.
“Official titles no longer mean anything to me,” Estrada said. “But if I could still help by running our biggest city, why not?” – Agence France-Presse