“Nakikita ko ang Maynila bilang capital city of the Philippines, nao-overtake na ng Makati, Quezon City, lahat ng mga karatig lungsod. Supposedly, yung Maynila ang show window ng ating bansa pero ano ang nangyayari? Mukhang nagdedetiriorate. Dapat siguro magkaroon ng vision ang alkalde diyan, magkaroon ng urban renewal, pagandahin ulit yung Maynila.” -Joseph Estrada, April 2012
It was June last year when someone first asked me if my father (not Lolo), Joseph Estrada was planning to run for mayor of the City of Manila. My honest answer to her was “I don’t know but there are people asking him to.” Apparently, it was already a hot topic in Manila back then. Now with only about five months left before the deadline for the filing of COC’s, the story has caught more attention and has taken a national scale. After all, it isn’t in every election that a former president of a country aspires to be a city’s mayor.
Presidents, after their term, usually hang their gloves and probably head an NGO or write a book. I may be mistaken, but it’s “only in da Pilipins” where I’ve seen a president run for a lower government position when GMA ran for congresswoman in Pampanga. I remember being furious over her lust for power after already stealing the presidency “not once, but twice.” True, her Kabalens might have wanted her as their representative in Congress; in fact, she won. But many believe she ran either because a) she believed she and her cohorts could push for charter change and make her the country’s Prime Minister or b) she wanted to obtain congressional immunity that would spare her from being the most accused public official in history. Having been detained since last December, it was obviously a big and tragic slip-up on her part.
On the contrary, Estrada has nothing to run from. Even after he was removed from the presidency and before cases were filed against him, he didn’t even attempt to leave the country. GMA’s government offered Estrada to go to any country of his choice, take anything and everything he wanted with him, and no charges would be filed against him for as long as he resigns as president of the country in writing. Twice he was offered, twice he refused. If Estrada had the same thirst for power as GMA, he, as president, could’ve ordered the Presidential Security Guard to disperse the rallyists of the so-called “EDSA Dos” and just go on with his term in office. Many believe such an order would’ve been easy to carry out and many encouraged him to give it. But Estrada isn’t like GMA.
Indeed, it’s unusual for a former president to seek a mayoral post. I have some reservations about it myself. Personally, I think my father has nothing else to prove as a public servant and the fact that he placed second in the last presidential elections with almost 10 million votes proves that the Filipino people have vindicated him. But I’ve also come to realise that having been in public service for over 40 years, helping people and being around them is what motivates the 75-year-old man to get up every morning. It’s what makes him stronger. If only for that reason and knowing it ain’t for personal gain, then I’m 100% for it. If he decides to run, that is.
Not a Manileño?
It is a well-known fact that Estrada lives in San Juan where he started his political career and served as mayor for 17 years. However, his connections to Manila are also undeniable. He was born in Tondo in 1937. He attended his elementary and secondary schooling at Ateneo de Manila University which was then located in the city before going to college at Mapúa Institute of Technology in Intramuros. Moreover, his father, Emilio Ejercito, became the city’s first sanitary engineer and held the position for 30 years. It is also because of these close ties to the city that Estrada has made it his vow to go back to Manila’s most depressed areas every year on his birthday to hand out goods.
Apart from the grave miscalculation that happened 2 years ago over the hostage crisis, I’m not familiar with politics in Manila so I can’t comment on how the current mayor is doing. But it’s not hard to observe that taken at face-value, Manila has been in decay for quite some time now and as the nation’s capital, it needs some sort of revitalisation.
Getting 33% of the votes in Manila last 2010 despite going up against the hype of PNoy and Villar who claims he’s also from Tondo, I think my father could put up a good fight. If ever he tosses his hat in the ring, I don’t think it will be an uphill battle for Estrada, but it looks like it’ll be a tight and interesting face-off between him and the incumbent Mayor Lim. “Asiong Salonga versus Dirty Harry,” as some have tagged it.
Apart from the eternally sought-after endorsement of the Iglesia ni Cristo, it seems a lot could also depend on whom the very popular Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno supports. He ran in tandem with Lim in the last election, but how loyal is he to his mayor? Will Estrada be able to woo him over? Or will Moreno himself take a shot at the mayorship as well?
The person who asked me last June shot the same question at me yesterday, and in spite of the new developments I still gave her the exact same answer: “I don’t know but there are people asking him to.” But for those of us waiting to find out if Manila will be the final destination of Erap’s Jeep, we wouldn’t have to wait much longer because before he can run in Manila, he is required by law to reside in the city on or before May 13th of this year. So if and when a purchase of property is made within the next 2 weeks, it’ll then be up to us to read in between the lines.