Philippine arts

Erap blasts Manila decay under Lim

Estrada and Moreno vow 'new life' for Manila in their 'Easterada Sunday' proclamation rally

'HABEMUS MAYOR.' Vice Mayor Isko Moreno says it is about time Manila has a new mayor: former President Joseph Estrada. Photo by Rappler/Ayee Macaraig

MANILA, Philippines – “Bubuhayin namin ang Maynila (We will resurrect Manila). We will bring back the glory and honor of Manila as the capital of the Philippines.”

Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada and Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno gave a new twist to Easter Sunday by firing the opening salvo in the campaign battle for the country’s capital.

In a 7-hour proclamation rally on Sunday, March 31, actors-turned-politicians Estrada and Moreno used both rhetoric and humor to outline their programs for Manila, and to blast the leadership of Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim of the ruling Liberal Party (LP). Watch Estrada and Moreno’s full speeches below. 

Lim and his slate will hold their own proclamation rally on Monday, April 1, with President Benigno Aquino III as main guest. Estrada even took a jab at Lim for the choice of date. “Basta puro loko-loko ‘yun kaya gusto nilang April Fools’. (Only fools hold rallies on April Fools’ Day).

Estrada and Moreno are candidates of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).  They led the rally at the Liwasang Bonifacio, an event organizers and police said drew a crowd of 75,000. The event was called “Easterada Sunday.”

12 taon ka na diyan sa Maynila, ano ang ginawa mo? Ito ba ang Maynila na pwede nating ikarangal? Natutulog sa bangketa, nilalangaw,” Estrada said in his one-hour speech. (You’ve been mayor of Manila for 12 years, what have you done. Is this the Manila that we can be proud of? People are sleeping on the streets, flies are all over.)

Manila is one of the most watched local races, with the heated rivalry between former allies Estrada and Lim. The city has 6 districts and over 950,000 registered voters.  

In their speeches, the Estrada-Moreno tandem referred to Lim as “Lolong,” “white man,” and “outgoing mayor.” 

Estrada and Moreno zeroed in on their argument that Manila, once a world-renowned capital, has been decaying and left behind by other cities like Makati and Taguig.

In his speech, Moreno pointed out that other cities boast of developments in places that were once wastelands. He cited the Fort Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, Eastwood Development and Ayala Technohub in Quezon City, and the Mall of Asia in Pasay.

Moreno was once an ally of Lim but last year switched sides to join Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), along with 29 city councilors. He said he made the move because Lim “played deaf” to the city’s problems. 

The vice mayor said that Manila’s problems can be attributed to one factor: for 21 years, only two leaders headed the city: Lim and former Mayor Lito Atienza.

Ano ang meron 21 years after ang siyudad ng Maynila? Meron ba tayong makukwento? Anyare mayor? Nganga!” (What do we have 21 years after in Manila? Is there something we can boast of? What happened. Nothing!)

An animated Moreno then pointed straight ahead. “Umuusok, may puting usok ang city hall. Habemus mayor! May bago nang alkalde, si Erap!”  (There’s smoke, white some coming out of the city hall. Habemus mayor! We have a new mayor, Erap!)

Moreno went on. “Kailangan ng bagong lider sa Maynila, maiba naman. Tama na, sobra na, alis diyan!” (Manila needs a new mayor for a change. Enough, too much, go away!)

MANILA’S FINEST. Estrada says he plans to transform Manila police into the city’s finest instead of worst starting by removing so-called “kotong cops.” Photo by Rappler/Ayee Macaraig

Erap’s 5-pronged platform

Estrada slammed the 83-year-old Lim for engaging in personal attacks.

“Ang dapat nating pag-usapan, ang kalagayan ng Maynila, ang kapakanan ng taga-Maynila, ang problema sa Maynila sa ilalim ni Dirty Harry,” Estrada said using Lim’s moniker. (What we should discuss is the state of Manila, the welfare of the people, the problems under Dirty Harry.)

He then detailed his 5-point platform, complete with accompanying video and newspaper screenshots displayed on an LCD wall:

1. Peace and order

Estrada again cited a 2012 report of the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group naming Manila the car theft capital of the Philippines. Lim has disputed this, saying only 8 incidents of car theft were recorded last year.

The 75-year-old former President, ousted in 2001 and convicted by the Sandiganbayan for plunder, also cited the problem of “kotong cops” or policemen who ask for bribes, and the delay in the release of policemen’s allowances.

“We must restore our police force in Manila, to redeem its image as Manila’s finest and not Manila’s worst …. There can never be economic growth without peace and order.”

2. Generation of investments

Estrada promised to launch programs to attract investments, saying this has long been neglected. “We will bring back investors. In the 50s and 60s, Manila was the center of commerce in the Philippines.”

3. Job creation

He cited a study of University of the Philippines professors showing high incidence of unemployment in Manila, and a study of the interior department showing Manila ranked 36th out of 38 highly urbanized cities.

“We need a good program to bring back investors so we can generate jobs.”

4. Revenue generation and fiscal transparency

Estrada cited a Commission on Audit report showing Manila has a debt of P3.5 billion. He also said Manila has debts in Meralco amounting to half a billion pesos. Lim has said though that this was already reduced to P225 million.

Estrada promised transparency in handling the city finances, starting with a computerized real property tax collection system.

5. Urban renewal

The mayoral bet said with the help of the city council, he will push for the passage of ordinances on education, health and housing.

NON-ISSUE. Estrada says Lim should not raise his conviction for plunder in 2007 as a campaign issue because EDSA 2 players have long asked his forgiveness for participating in his ouster. Photo by Rappler/Ayee Macaraig

‘Plunder conviction beside the point’

Estrada said his platform contains the issues that Lim must discuss, instead of hurling personal attacks against him.

“He’s the one attacking me. Let us just limit on the issues of Manila. He even includes plunder but that’s beside the point,” Estrada said of his 2007 conviction.

Lim though has harped on Estrada’s conviction, saying his edge over his rival is that he was never jailed for corruption. In response, Estrada said the issue is already settled, pointing out that people do not even celebrate the anniversary of EDSA 2, which led to his ouster.

In contrast to Lim’s message, Moreno said an Estrada victory will be Manila’s pride.

Bilang Manileño, isang malaking karangalan magkaroon ng alkalde na dating Pangulo ng ating bansa.” (As a Manilan, it is a great honor to have a mayor who is a former President.)

Despite the promise to focus on issues, the Estrada-Moreno tandem again attacked Lim.

Moreno said, “Bumangon sa norte si Asiong Salonga. ‘Di makatiiis kay Dirty Harry, gugulpihin niya ito, partida pa bumunot pa ng baril. Puro takot-takot, nanduduro naman, iyakin pa.” (Asiong Salonga rose from the north. He cannot stand Dirty Harry. He will beat him up. Dirty Harry keeps making threats but is a crybaby).

This is in reference to Lim, a former Interior Secretary, approaching Estrada to apologize for turning his back on him in EDSA 2, and asking him to include him in the 2004 senatorial ticket of his best friend, the late Fernando Poe Jr.

ERAP’S ENDORSERS. Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile return to the campaign trail to endorse Estrada’s mayoral bid. They are known as the so-called “3 kings” of UNA. Photo by Rappler/Ayee Macaraig

‘UNA’s grandest rally’

Besides Estrada, Moreno and local UNA candidates, the opposition and the Ejercito-Estrada family were in full force to support Estrada’s mayoral bid. Estrada’s wife, Dr Loi Ejercito, son Sen Jinggoy Estrada, daughter Jackie Ejercito-Lopez, and other children and grandchildren were on stage to support the patriarch.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and the UNA Senate bets were also present in the event.

Binay hailed the proclamation as UNA’s grandest rally yet, drawing the biggest crowd. He and Enrile made a pitch for Estrada, saying their ally’s mayoral bid will ensure that the masses will not be left behind in the country’s economic growth.

Estrada echoed the message. He said ultimately, he is running for mayor to give back to a city where he was born, and made a name in show business. Until he was incarcerated, he said the poor people of Manila never neglected him.

“Inaalay ko ang huling hibla ng aking buhay kasi mahalaga sa akin ang kapakanan ng Maynila. Ang kinabukasan ng Maynila ay kinabukasan ng bansa.” (I offer the last fiber of my life because the welfare of Manila is important to me. Its future is the country’s future.)

He ended the night by repeating a favorite line. “Habang buhay, mamamatay, mabubuhay si Erap ‘di makakabayad ng utang na loob sa mahihirap.” (Erap will live and die unable to pay back his debt of gratitude to the poor.) – 


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