MANILA, Philippines – The title of the debate was a play on the 1975 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier—“Thrilla in UP Manila.” But mayoral candidates Alfredo Lim (a re-electionist) and Joseph Estrada (a former president of the republic) promised that they wouldn’t engage in a bout.
And so the Iskolar ng Bayan in the audience and the netizens watching the Rappler livestream had high hopes that the aspirants on Wednesday, March 13, would be presenting concrete solutions to the capital’s dire problems.
Instead, they saw the two mayoral candidates digging issues from the past and trading personal insults, as they already did on national TV a day before.
It frustrated some of the students:
Nung Thrilla in UP Manila parang gusto ko na lang kumain ng bubog eh. Mas better option pa yun kesa makinig sa debate ni ERAP at Lim.— Paula Sabrine (@sprocketscience) March 13, 2013
At one point, Estrada brandished newspaper clippings of crime incidents as Lim denied that crime was rampant in Manila. Later, Lim held a mugshot of Estrada taken during the former president’s arrest for plunder charges and asked Estrada, “Mr. President, kayo ba ito?”
Senatorial candidate Chiz Escudero was dragged into the debate by Lim, to prove his claim that Estrada tends to spread rumors about non-allies that they cried while asking for Estrada’s support or endorsement.
Estrada denied this and instead pointed to Lim as the “crybaby.”
“Hindi iyakin si Escudero…Pero siya (pointing to Lim) ang talagang umiyak,” the former President said. Estrada previously said Lim cried in front of him to ask for forgiveness and be included in the senatorial slate of the opposition in 2004.
Some students were quite amused by the candidates’ quips:
“Thrilla in UP Manila” with the former Pres. Joseph Estrada and Mayor Alfredo Lim. Extraordinary comedy… instagr.am/p/WzEolbMbC0/— Marj Aquino (@marjaquino) March 13, 2013
Others, like UP Manila-College of Pharmacy information officer Chai Ching, felt Manila residents were left with no choice in the upcoming polls:
Alam ko na ang conclusion ng #ThrillainUPManila : NONE OF THE ABOVE #PHvote Abstain nalang.— Chai Ching (@ChaiChingRPh) March 13, 2013
In-between mudslinging that used up most of the program’s time, Lim and Estrada were able to present their solutions to only 3 problems in Manila, as brought up by students and netizens:
Traffic obstruction by illegal vendors
LIM: Dahil prinesenta ’nyo ang problema, ’yan ang gagawin natin. In two weeks time magkakaroon ng solusyon.
ESTRADA: 15 taon ka nang mayor, ngayon lang niya malalaman ang problemang iyan? Nakapag-ikot na ako – iyang mga vendor na ’yan ay may lagay [sa pulis]. Kaya di sila binibigyan ng lisensya, ilegal, kaya may tong. Alam ni Mayor Lim iyan, pulis din iyan eh.
Relocation of Pandacan Oil Depot
LIM: Bigyan natin ng pagkakataon ‘yung mga oil companies for more pleasant means with regards to transfer. Dahil ho, ‘pag pinaalis natin ‘yan, ang mangyayari diyan, madodoble pa, madadagdagan ang presyo ng [oil products]. Ang refinery nasa Batangas. Mayroong oil pipe from Batangas to the oil depot. Kapag [pinutol] natin ‘yan, karagdagang gastos ‘yan. Ikalawa ho, mahigit 1,000 buses ang kailangan para pumunta sa Batangas para humakot ng gasolina. ‘Yang gasolinang ‘yan, dini-distribute sa Metro Manila. Kaya it involves the economic growth of the city and Metro Manila. Kaya hindi natin pwedeng basta sabihin na umalis.
ERAP: ‘Pag sumabog ‘yan, pati sa Malacañang aabot. That’s the danger. Pero ewan ko kung ano nangyayari sa negotiation, puro postpone nang postpone. Panahon pa ni Mayor [Lito] Atienza, aalisin na raw. Napalitan naman niya (Lim), stop na naman. Parating negotiations. Para malaman talaga ng bayan, be transparent. Pati negotiation, kailangang malaman ng bayan kung anong nangyayari. Baka ‘yung mga negotiations na ‘yan, maraming “under the table.”
LIM: Ang [may] responsibilidad sa pagkontrol is the MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority). Kaya nga po, 17 cities, 5 percent of our budget is deducted from us automatically para sa traffic situation, garbage, and flood [control].
ESTRADA: Ang mga estero sa San Juan, pinalinis ko nang husto. It’s a matter of conditioning people. I’m proud to say may bayanihan sa San Juan.
Netizens had wanted to know how the two candidates planned to help Manila catch up with other business districts in the capital region, and what they intended to do with the planned reclamation on Manila Bay that’s being opposed by environmentalists and conservationists. Organizers, however, had to wrap up the program after the debate became too intense due to the candidates’ personal attacks against each other. – Rappler.com
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