MANILA, Philippines – Manila 5th district Representative Amado Bagatsing is running for mayor of Manila, campaigning on the promise to push for pro-business policies in the Philippine capital. He said the city’s business and real property tax hikes had unduly hurt small and medium enterprises.
Bagatsing filed on Monday, October 12, his certificate of candidacy for the May 2016 elections under the local party KABAKA (Kabalikat ng Bayan sa Kaunlaran Foundation). Manila 5th District Councillor Ali Atienza is his running mate.
They are both sons of former Manila mayors – Ramon Bagatsing and Lito Atienza, respectively.
Bagatsing will face incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, former Philippine president, and administration candidate former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.
Bagatsing said he wants to bring back the city’s “lost vibrance” through inclusive decision-making.
“Pagtulong-tulongan natin na muling maibalik ang dating saya at sigla ng ating mahal na lungsod (Let us all work towards bringing back the old joy and zest of our beloved city). I will consult you every step of the way. This is what I intend to bring to the city of Manila,” Bagatsing said.
“With your help and support, we can show the world that Manila is back, that businesses are thriving within our city, and that Manileños are contented and happy,” he added.
Bagatsing also said he will focus on eliminating corruption in the city, resolving the congested Manila traffic, and continuing medical projects. He also promised to provide scholarships, sports program for the youth, and livelihood and manpower training for the unemployed.
Manila is beset with perennial problems of vehicular congestion and flooding in major roads, vulnerable employment, and crime in densely poor areas.
Bagatsing was Manila 5th District Congressman for 3 terms prior to his candidacy as mayor. His district includes the areas of Malate, Ermita, Paco, Port Area, and Intramuros.
Erap policies anti-poor?
In a statement, Bagatsing detailed what is supposedly wrong in the city’s policies under Estrada – “the public market privatization, increase in business and real property taxes by 300%, and unlawful towing and clamping operations.”
Estrada defended his policies, echoing his slogan as pro-poor. He said proceeds from the tax hikes were used to finance government projects that served Manila residents.
Estrada also defended the management of the city public market as a “joint venture project,” saying that the venture is funding the operations of the market.
Estrada won the 1998 presidential elections by a landslide, campaigning on the pro-poor slogan “Erap para sa mahirap (Erap for the poor).”
His administration was short-lived, however. He was ousted in 2001 following corruption allegations. He was convicted of plunder but was later pardoned by President Gloria Arroyo.
Lim’s old sins?
Bagatsing did not spare his other opponent for the post, administration candidate former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim who served the city for 12 years. He blamed him for the debts that the city incurred and the notoriety it gained as the “worst city in terms of cleanliness.”
Bagatsing said it was also Lim who allowed the construction of Torre de Manila, now a controversial condominium tagged by heritage conservationists as a “national photobomber” for blocking the landscape behind the historical monument of national hero Jose Rizal.
The ruling Liberal Party is fielding Lim as Manila mayoralty candidate for 2016. Lim had lost to Estrada in 2013 by a margin of over 30,000 votes. – Rappler.com