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Erap on who will get his endorsement: It's 'providential'

MANILA, Philippines – “Presidency is providential.”

This is all former president and Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada can say these days when he has yet to decide who to endorse in the 2016 presidential election, or whether he will seek the presidency again.

“Alam mo, ang presidency ay providential,” Estrada said. “Hindi ba ang standard-bearer ng Liberal Party, si Mar Roxas, bakit biglang naging si PNoy? Dahil namatay si President Cory. Providential. Noon hindi naman na-mention ang pangalan ni PNoy,’di ba?” he said on Wednesday, July 8, referring to the 2010 elections.

(You know, the presidency is providential. Wasn't Mar Roxas the Liberal Party’s standard-bearer? Then why did it suddenly become PNoy [Aquino]. Because President Cory died. It was providential. PNoy wasn't even considered before that.)

 

In the 2010 elections, Estrada ran for president again and finished second to Aquino. He believed that had the mother, former President Corazon Aquino, not died, and sympathy votes didn't go to the son, he (Estrada) could have won.

Although Estrada said in recent interviews that he may run for re-election as Manila mayor, he is not closing the door to seeking the presidency again.

Still a kingmaker

Estrada, one of the founders of the United Nationalist Alliance, admitted that he has yet to decide if he is backing the presidential bid of UNA co-founder, Vice President Jejomar Binay. The other strong contender for the highest post, Senator Grace Poe, is Estrada's goddaughter, the child of his late best friend Fernando Poe Jr.

Poe has yet to decide whether to run for president or vice president, but she topped the latest nationwide polls on both positions.

Estrada remains to be popular among the voters despite being impeaced as president in 2001 and being convicted for plunder years later. (He was immediately pardoned after his conviction).

He is aware of his role as kingmaker more than a decade after he was removed from office.

Asked by Rappler if he agreed that his choice of who to support was “also providential” to a candidate’s success, he smiled and nodded.  “Agreed,” Estrada said.

Not ready to go

On Wednesday, Estrada distributed 70 wheelchairs to a cheering audience of senior citizens at the San Andres Sports Complex in Manila. He was accompanied by his wife, a former senator, during the event.

Dr Luisa Ejercito Estrada, whose organization was responsible for the wheelchair donations, said were she to decide, she would rather her husband retire from politics. She said she ran for senator in 2001 to gauge the public’s sentiments toward her husband, who had just been ousted then. 

Sawa na ako,” she said. “It’s not my cup of tea.”

Estrada disagreed with his wife’s sentiments: “Hindi ako mapapagod sa paglilingkod sa mga kababayan nating kapus-palad. Dahil sa mahihirap kaya sumikat si Erap. Sila ang tumangkilik ng pelikulang Pilipino, malaki ang utang na loob ko sa kanila, panahon naman na suklian ko ang utang na loob ko sa kanila.” 

(I will not get tired of serving the poor. It was because of them that Erap became popular. They watched my films, I have a huge debt of gratitude to them, it is time I return the favor.)  Rappler.com