Erap: I forgive Lim but he must face probe
MANILA, Philippines – Former President now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said he might create a body to investigate his election rival Alfredo Lim.
Speaking after his oath-taking on Sunday, June 30, Estrada said the former Manila mayor must answer for alleged excesses under his administration. Estrada beat Lim, his former Interior secretary, in a hotly contested mayoral race last May.
“We might ask the Commission on Audit to audit the income and the expenditures of the city of Manila for the last 3 years. What is the reason it is bankrupt now,” Estrada said in a press conference.
Estrada, 76, said he is not waging a political vendetta against the 83-year-old Lim.
He again cited a Commission on Audit report saying the city of Manila had a debt of P3.5 billion last year. During the campaign, Lim said the debt was carried over from even before he sat as mayor.
“Ako, lahat ng mga insulto sa akin, pinatawad ko na siya pero ang kasalanan niya sa taumbayan, ‘di ko kayang patawarin. Siya ang sumagot sa taumbayan. Sa akin, wala nang kailangan intindihin. I’ve forgiven him at maawain ako sa matatanda eh,” Estrada said.
(All the insults against me, I’ve forgiven him but I cannot forgive his sins to the people. He should answer for that. To me, it’s nothing. I’ve forgiven him and I am forgiving of old people.)
Watch Estrada's oath-taking here:
Estrada and Lim had a heated exchange of words during the campaign, digging up personal gripes involving the EDSA Dos uprising, and even their children’s involvement in drugs.
The rivalry between the two former allies persists even after the campaign, with Lim intervening in a petition to disqualify Estrada filed before the Supreme Court.
Estrada said Manila’s debt is the immediate problem he is facing as mayor. “So much is expected of me but the problem is the city has no money. The deficit is big … There are so many problems as far as funding is concerned.”
As a first initiative, Estrada said he plans to assess the financial status of the city government.
“We will make sure the assessment and taxes paid are really the right amount that should go to the city coffers. Right now, we don’t have an idea if every single [centavo] is going to the city coffers. We believe once we have studied all this, we can generate bigger income.”
“The money going in and the money going out will be transparent to the public,” he said.
Watch Estrada's inaugural address here:
‘Oil firms must move out of Pandacan’
In the press conference, Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno said the city council will assist Estrada by passing an ordinance assessing the value of real estate property to help ensure efficient tax collection.
Moreno said the city government will also request commercial establishments to put up CCTV to help resolve crimes, and later on pass an ordinance requiring this for the issuance of business permits.
The re-elected vice mayor added that under Estrada’s leadership, the city government will avoid a repeat of the oil spill in Santa Ana, Manila last week. He said the new leadership will push for the transfer of oil firms from the Padacan depot.
Moreno said that as early as 2007, Manila already asked the 3 major oil companies to move out of the area but they kept asking for an extension. He said the city council passed an ordinance last year requiring the oil firms to vacate the facility by January 2016 but Lim vetoed this twice. He said the council decided to override the veto.
“What is the status now? I think the 3 oil companies should prepare to vacate. Magligpit-ligpit na sila nang kaunti (They should slowly pack up) because we don’t want those things to happen, especially what happened last week. The ordinance is already a law and they should move by January 2016,” Moreno said.
Estrada has said he supports the transfer of the oil depot. The Palace said it is reviewing the proposal.
On the controversial Manila Bay reclamation project, Estrada said he has yet to study the plan.
“I cannot comment on that because I have not seen how and where this reclamation will be done. Give me one week,” he said.
Vendors? Night market a la Hong Kong
Estrada said he is giving Manila police 100 days to clean up their ranks, amid reports they are engaged in car theft, kidnapping, and extortion.
“I am threatening the chief of police. If in 100 days, they cannot do the job, they should resign or transfer.”
Estrada said he ordered police to arrest anyone who will use his name to violate the law.
"Walang kama-kamag-anak, walang kumpa-kumpare, walang palakasan," he said, repeating a line he delivered in his 1998 presidential inauguration. (No relatives, no close friends, no power play.)
In the campaign, Estrada repeatedly criticized Lim, a former Manila police chief, for reports naming Manila the car theft capital of the Philippines, and for supposedly failing to go after so-called “kotong cops.” Lim denied Estrada's allegations.
To help address the problem of heavy traffic, Estrada said he plans to clear vendors from roads, and only allow them to sell goods at night.
“My idea is it’s like the night market in Hong Kong so 7 pm, they will start and by 6 am, they should leave. It’s one of the things I thought of so they won’t be jobless, they can boost their income and won’t fall prey to kotong cops.”
2016 again? ‘I will keep word to Isko’
Estrada and Moreno were also asked about speculation of a possible future rivalry in case the former President decides to again seek the mayoral post in 2016.
Moreno is already on his last term as vice mayor and is expected to run for mayor 3 years from now.
“Wala akong alam, ‘di ko masagot. Ako naman may isang salita. Hindi ko lang matiis ang nangyayari sa Maynila kaya [tumakbo ako],” Estrada said. (I don’t know of those intrigues. I will keep my word. I just could not bear what’s happening to Manila that’s why I ran for mayor.)
Estrada added, “This is my last hurrah to reciprocate and I am dedicating my service to the marginalized people in the city.”
Asked if 3 years will be enough to complete his planned urban renewal, Estrada said he will lay the foundations and the blueprint so Moreno can continue it once he takes over.
As for Moreno, he said he also has not heard of any such intrigue.
“I am just 38 years oId. I can wait. I can learn from Mayor Erap. He is known to keep his word so nothing to worry. What we should worry about is how to offer our services to the city of Manila for 1,095 days.” – Rappler.com