MANILA, APRIL 15, 2013 (PHILSTAR) COMMONSENSE By Marichu A. Villanueva (photo) Turning 76 this Friday, former President Joseph Estrada remains at full throttle in his political machinery.

Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) has revved up his bid to run for mayor of the city of Manila in the coming May 13 elections.

Age has not slowed down Mr. Estrada a bit, and neither his rival, incumbent Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim who is 83. Despite strong objections by certain members of his family and well-meaning friends, Estrada decided to run again for public office as a local chief executive.

What probably inspired Estrada to run again is his almost making a comeback at Malacañang when he ran but lost to President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III in the May 2010 elections.

This will be the second time though that Estrada and Lim are running against each other. Estrada won handily against Lim who was among five other candidates during the May 1998 presidential elections. But one year later, Mr.Estrada appointed Lim to become his secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

In their first televised public debate at the start of the mayoral campaign last month, Estrada twitted Lim when the latter abandoned him during EDSA-2 in January 2001 when he was ousted from the palace.

Estrada wants to fulfill his vision for the country in the city of Manila that he failed to complete during his presidency because it was cut short by EDSA-2.

He blamed Lim for the present sorry state of the city of Manila. Thus, Estrada is not making light of his campaign in the mayoral race against Lim. Estrada’s fervent wish on his birthday: “That the people of Manila would give me a chance for my last hurrah!”

Estrada believes he can turn Manila around from the deterioration through the years as the capital city. He has in fact come up with a ten-point agenda how to bring this turnaround in the next three years.

Interestingly, one of the programs of governance for Manila was coined from Estrada’s popular nickname, E.R.A.P., which stands for Emergency Response Action Program. This is a master plan for flood control, earthquake, fire and other emergency and natural calamities that Manila is prone to. Mayor-to-be Estrada vows to immediately put up at City Hall a Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office to do this job.

With the help of public administration experts from the University of the Philippines, Estrada has mapped out specific, time-bound strategies for Manila’s urban renewal program, especially for the 230 depressed areas out of 897 barangays in the entire city. The highest poverty incidence, at 13.2 percent, is in Baseco.

“Hungry stomach knows no law,” Estrada reiterated. This is why, he said, he would focus on job creation and livelihood opportunities for the poor folks of Manila as a continuation of his “Erap para sa Masa” program.

Estrada counts as ominous blessing that the Archbishop of Manila Cardinal Luis Tagle is also known as a pro-poor Cardinal like newly installed Pope Francis. He further noted Pope Francis and Archbishop Tagle are both Jesuits. “And he (Tagle) is Atenista like me,” he quipped. Estrada studied in Ateneo de Manila from grade three until third year high school when he was kicked out for getting into boxing melee with a fellow student.

As part of his urban renewal for Manila, Estrada plans “to restore Binondo as the financial center” of the city. He vows try to bring back Chinese investors who he said have shunned away from the Philippines because of rising criminality, poor infrastructure facilities, corruption and bureaucratic red tape at City Hall, among other problems.

This is not a pipe dream, Estrada swears. He has a track record to show his performance in public office that included 16 years as mayor of San Juan. If he made the former municipality of San Juan into a bustling city that it is now, Estrada believes he can also do it for the city of Manila.

Lim is running for his third and last term in office at City Hall. The retired police general earned the moniker “Dirty Harry” for his tough anti-crime program that he started when he was still the chief of the Manila Police District. Rebutting Estrada’s attacks on him, Mayor Lim called the ex-president a “convicted plunderer.”

Lim’s re-election bid is backed by no less than President Aquino. On the other hand, Estrada joined forces with Vice President Jejomar Binay’s PDP-Laban and Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) coalition. The UNA triumvirate fielded a common Senate ticket that included their respective children, San Juan City Rep. JV Estrada, Cagayan Rep.Jackie Enrile, and Nancy Binay.

Thus, the three UNA senatorial bets are the targets of perennial attacks as products of “political dynasties” in the country. But Estrada argued the issue of political dynasty is a matter best decided by the Filipino voters themselves.

Through the years, he cited the Filipino voters elected the Estradas into office even if he was in detention during the previous administration. He referred to the election of former first lady, Dra.Loi Ejercito as senator. Subsequently, their eldest son Jinggoy Estrada won and served at the Senate together as mother-and-son team.

At a roundtable discussion with editors and reporters of The STAR last Wednesday night, JV pointed out that they have political differences even in the family. He cited the case of his first cousin, Janella Ejercito who is running against comebacking San Juan City Congressman Ronaldo Zamora. JV said he supports Zamora, not his cousin, in this election.

As to his much talked about sibling rivalry with Jinggoy, JV concedes they are not close. “But at least we are not quarreling anymore,” JV added, in deference to the wishes of their father.

Despite being busy in his own campaign for the Senate, JV said he pitches for his father’s campaign and for his mother’s as well. That is why, JV wisecracked, he looks like the Binays now, referring to the dark complexion of the Vice President and Nancy.

JV’s mother is running for re-election, un-opposed, as mayor of San Juan City. But the battle of Manila between Estrada and Lim is just heating up

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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