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Erap eyeing Manila mayor post - spokesman

July 17, 2011 2:35pm

A year after his failed presidential re-election bid and with still more than a year before the 2013 midterm elections, former President Joseph “Erap" Estrada is entertaining thoughts of joining the mayoralty race in Manila, his spokesperson said Sunday.

While he is not directly confirming or denying his plans, Estrada is “toying with the idea" based on the suggestions of political allies, said one of his media officers, Ferdie Ramos, in a telephone interview with GMA News Online.

The ousted president will possibly stage a run as mayor of the nation’s capital to continue his pro-poor advocacy and to “settle issues" with incumbent Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, according to Ramos.

Ramos said an Estrada candidacy for Manila mayor will be “a walk in the park," considering the number of poor residents in the city, with whom the former actor is largely popular.

On Estrada’s supposed issues with the incumbent mayor, Ramos said the former president’s camp “felt betrayed by Mayor Lim."

There were “certain projects" for the poor that Lim did not implement, said Ramos, who did not give any more specifics. “Marami siyang pangako na hindi ginawa sa Maynila," he said.

A long-time mayor and resident of San Juan, Estrada was born in Tondo, Manila. If he pushes through with and prospers in his mayoralty bid, he will follow the lead of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as a politician who took on a lower position after stepping down from the presidency.

'An unprecedented and historic run'

One of the first news items on Estrada’s plan to run for Manila mayor appeared on the Philippine Star on Sunday, with columnist Wilson Lee Flores citing “a high-ranking incumbent government official" as a source.

The source, according to Flores, said Estrada “is planning to make an unprecedented and historic run in 2013 as mayor of Manila City versus Mayor Alfredo Lim."

“Why would a former president run for city mayor? The government official replied to me that Erap still wants vindication in history from those he believes unjustly removed him from power in 2001," Flores wrote.

Estrada was dethroned in 2001 following allegations of corruption. He was found guilty of plunder by the Sandiganbayan in September 2007 and sentenced to reclusion perpetua. He was, however, pardoned by then-President Arroyo about a month later.

The columnist also said Erap “wants to settle scores" with Lim and “showcase his leadership capabilities and pro-poor advocacy."

Estrada’s running mate will possibly be former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, Flores said.

Flores reported these details as part of his review of the new book Ambition, Destiny, Victory: Stories from a Presidential Election by investigative journalists Chay Hofileña and Miriam Grace Go.

Isko sending feelers, too?

Ramos, meanwhile, confirmed that Atienza’s name is indeed being floated as Estrada’s possible running mate, as the former Manila mayor is one of Estrada’s closest friends. Ramos said the current Manila vice mayor, Isko Moreno, has sent feelers presenting himself as Estrada’s possible vice mayoralty candidate, too.

Moreno is also said to have plans to run for Manila mayor, but GMA News Online could not independently confirm this as of posting time.

Nagsabi si Isko na kung sakaling tatakbo nga si Presidente, hindi na siya tatakbong mayor. Pero sana i-consider siyang vice mayor," Ramos said.

Ramos, however, denied Estrada’s supposed desire for vindication in eying the Manila mayor’s position. The former president’s second-place finish in the 2010 elections is enough vindication for him, Ramos said.

Revealing the inside stories of the 2010 presidential elections, Ambition, Destiny, Victory says Estrada was after “complete vindication" when he ran again for president.

For Estrada, “vindication meant ‘becoming president again to have a re-trial,’ being in a position to order a fresh trial of his own case and prove that he was unconstitutionally removed from office," according to the book, which is based on interviews with over 60 campaign insiders, strategists, pollsters, and media and communications experts.

The book adds, “He wanted to prove that despite his conviction by what he called a kangaroo court, he was not a criminal. This was the only kind of vindication that would satisfy the wish that his late father made to him the first time he was proclaimed mayor in 1969: ‘Wala akong hihingin sa iyo. Huwag mo lang sirain ang pangalan ng pamilya ko.’" - KBK, GMA News
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