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Erap-Lim face-off sealed

By FRANCIS T. WAKEFIELD

Manila, Philippines – The political version of the “Showdown at O.K Corral” is on: Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada versus incumbent Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim.

Estrada’s bid to unseat Lim began yesterday after he filed his mayoral candidacy at the local Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Arroceros, Manila.

Estrada, 75, submitted his certificate of candidacy (CoC) a day after Lim, 82, filed his own, sealing their face-off in the 2013 midterm elections, their second match in the political arena.

They both ran for the presidency in 1998, where Estada won the race and Lim, who landed fifth among eight candidates, graciously conceded.

Though now confined in a local setting, the stakes between them have grown incredibly higher.

Meanwhile, incumbent Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, Lim’s former ally, also filed his CoC as Estrada’s running mate.

After leading a convoy on board the “Jeep ni ERAP at Isko” that took them from his house on Acacia Street in Mangga, Sampaloc to Liwasang Bonifacio in Lawton, Estrada met with about 5,000 supporters bearing placards and waving banners. They then marched to the local Comelec office.

Aside from Moreno, Estrada was accompanied by three of their party’s candidates to the House of Representatives: former Councilor Ernesto Dionisio (District 1), former Councilor Edward M. Tan (District 2), and former Congressman Bienvenido M. Abante (District 6), along with 35 candidates for the City Council.

Estrada’s two sons – Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito Estrada, a senatorial bet under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) – were also with him during the CoC filing.

During an interview, Estrada, who was wearing his trademark orange polo and wristband, assured Manileños that he will do his best to bring back the glory of Manila.

He said his platform of government will center on job creation and livelihood, war on criminals and scalawag policemen.

“We will have teamwork with the people, walang hanggan ang paglilingkod sa tao. Maglilingkod ako sa taong bayan lalo na sa mahirap nating mga kababayan. Hindi ako titigil hanggang sa huling hininga ko (We will have teamwork with the people, there will be unlimited service to the people. I will serve the people especially the poor. I will not stop serving the people. I will not stop until my last breath),” said Estrada.

When asked why he chose Manila instead of coming back to San Juan to serve his former constituents, Estrada said his time as local chief executive of San Juan is already over.

“Tapos na ako sa San Juan. Itong Maynila naman ang pagagandahin natin,” Estrada said.

When sought for comment about Lim’s criticism that he is not a real resident of Manila, Estrada quipped: “Maybe he is not the real Manileño. I was born in Tondo in Manuguit Maternity Hospital. 1937. What about him? Where was he born? In Beijing? I think in Chinatown?” Estrada said, bursting into laughter.

Estrada also expressed confidence in next year’s elections based on past mayoralty surveys where he and Moreno lead.

Estrada, who played the character of a Tondo toughie in the 1960 movie “Asiong Salonga” has been a colorful political figure since he became mayor of San Juan and later elected as the country’s President in 1998.

On the other hand, Lim, a decorated police officer, earned the moniker “Dirty Harry’ for his unconventional anti-crime policies during his term as mayor of Manila. District 6 Councilor Lou Velosa, an actor-director, is Lim’s running mate.

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