By CHANDO MORALLOS and BENJIE MURILLO
MANILA — The fight between Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and former President Joseph Estrada for the post of mayor of Manila is one for the books. It is a fight between two senior politicians who should do better if they now retire and enjoy the remaining years of their fruitful lives.
The two Filipino titans, both with thousands of supporters, will engage in a battle that is sure to shake the wobbly foundations of the ancient city of Manila that was founded by the Mexican conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legaspi in 1572.
To Manilans who have a propensity for gambling, the joust between the two aging political superstars is eagerly being awaited to determine who between the former policeman (Lim) and the retired actor (Estrada) has the stronger political muscles.
The Manila mayor, who is a holder of several political championship belts, is not, however, intimidated by challenger Estrada who is considered a pound-for-pound champion of the political ring. Estrada began his political career as mayor of San Juan, then as Senator, then as Vice President and finally as President of the Philippines.
However, despite his impressive credentials he was knocked out by People Power in 2004 on charges of graft.
Based on the multitudes that follow Estrada whenever he visits Manila where he had recently acquired an P80-milion residential estate in Sta. Mesa, movie-crazed Manileños are inclined to support Estrada who is also known as “Asiong Salonga,” the toughie he once portrayed in a movie in the 60s.
But Lim is not to be dismissed with merely a wave of a hand. The white-maned mayor equally boasts of supporters in Tondo and other parts of Manila whereas in contrast some Manileños question Erap’s instant Manila residency. Estrada is actually a resident of nearby San Juan.
Given their age longevity, cynical voters of Manila are at a loss as to the motives behind their candidacies. Rumors say Estrada just wants to punish Lim for not supporting him in last year’s presidential elections which he should have done in return for the political favors Estrada gave Lim when he (Estrada) was President.
Estrada probably felt that if Lim had given him the Manila votes, he would have beaten President Aquino in the race for the presidency
It seems Lim forgot to return the debt of gratitude (utang na loob) to his former benefactor, a grievous offense to Filipinos.
As for Lim, nobody knows why at age 82 he does not want to yield his chair to a much younger politician like Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, who could be a good, albeit controversial, successor if we believe some charges of graft hurled against him.