By CLAIRE MORALES TRUE and JO ERLINDA G NEBRES
MANILA/MAKATI CITY (via PhilAmPress) — Metro Manila officials led by reelectionist mayors of Manila, Quezon City and Makati City opened their campaign on March 28 with their respective proclamation rallies where they pledged to do better in the years ahead.
Mayor Herbert Bautista of Quezon City is virtually unopposed as those contesting the mayorship are reported to be unknown. Bautista, with Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, led the city in posting a record P15 billion in revenues last year, bolstering its position as the wealthiest city and local government unit in the Philippines.
In Manila, Mayor Joseph Estrada is doing every gimmick to woo the voters as he is lagging behind his opponents in surveys because of controversies hounding his administration like realty tax increases, commercialization of the city’s six hospitals as residents now pay for services of the hospitals, privatization of the city’s public markets and giving them to favored groups and individuals without record in market management, commercialization of parking at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila and the increase of admission tests for students at PLM, among others.
Leading the survey in Manila’s mayoral race is Rep. Amado Bagatsing with his tandem Ali Atienza for vice mayor while comebacking former Mayor Alfredo Lim got the personal support of President Aquino and the LIberal Party who attended his proclamation rally at Plaza Miranda.
Bagatsing and Atienza were once allies of Estrada who now have abandoned the mayor together with Rep. Sandy Ocampo of the sixth district and the clan of former Mayor Mel Lopez who have all banded together behind the Bagatsing-Atienza ticket. Atienza is the son of former mayor now Buhay Party list Rep Lito Atienza.
To survive, Estrada changed his allegiance at the last minute from Vice President Binay to Sen. Grace Poe while his common-law wife Mayor Guia Gomez of San Juan City came out for administration candidate Mar Roxas.
In Makati City, acting Mayor Romy Kid Pena, the administration candidate, is getting a run for his money from Rep. Abby Binay, the candidate for mayor of the opposition.
Binay, a lawyer, vowed to return old services for the residents of Makati and continue to fight for the welfare of the city during her proclamation rally attended by Vice President Jejomar Binay and thousands of followers and supporters.
Vice President Jejomar Binay and dismissed Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” S. Binay, Jr. were also present at the proclamation rally held at the intersection of Metropolitan Avenue, Pasong Tamo St. and P. Ocampo (Vito Cruz). They endorsed Abby for mayoral post in Makati City in the upcoming polls of the city.
Abby said she would bring back the “old Makati” and improve the infrastructure, health, and education sector if she becomes mayor of Makati.
Abby said she would improve Makati’s yellow card program, a card system that provides benefits to residents, and she put up more health centers in every barangay.
“There will be house-to-house delivery of medicines for senior citizens,” she said.
The Vice President asked the Makati residents to vote for his “favorite daughter.”
During Binay’s proclamation rally attended by UNA senatorial candidates broadcaster Rey Langit, Sulu sultanate Princess Jacel Kiram, Parañaque councilor Alma Moreno, labor lawyer Allan Montaño, and retired police official Getulio Napeñas and UNA Vice Presidential bet Senator Gringo Honasan.
Binay is running against incumbent Makati City Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña.
Bagatsing, son for Manila’s longest serving mayor Ramon Bagatsing Sr went to a small barangay at the Pandacan Oil Depot with the rest of the Kabalikat ng Bayan sa Kaunlaran (Kabaka) party to start off his campaign. Bagatsing said he will be holding small events in barangays and talk to voters directly rather than stage grand rallies.
“Wala naman kaming pera, kaya wala kaming hakot-hakot na ganyan. Iyong dalawang kalaban ko, gusto lang maghigantihan. Puro ego trip. Papaano naman ang Maynila? Papaano ang mga mamayan ng Maynila? Naiipit sa dalawang nagbubungguan na ang gusto sino mas macho sa kanilang dalawa? Kami serbisyo, sila perwisyo,” Bagatsing said.
Bagatsing and his running mate, Ali Atienza, had kicked off their campaign in Tondo on Sunday.
Among Bagatsing’s promises to Manila’s residents were lower taxes; an anti-corruption campaign; and stronger health, education, and sports programs .
Bagatsing supported Estrada’s mayoral bid in 2013.
Lim and running-mate Manila First District Rep. Benjamin Asilo had their proclamation rally at the Plaza Miranda.
With them at were the LP’s top bets, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and his running mate Camarines Sur Third District Rep. Leni Robredo, as well as President Benigno Aquino III.
In his speech, Lim denied Estrada’s allegations that Manila was bankrupt when he left the mayorship in 2013. “Kaya kung may sinungaling, meron ding magnanakaw. Sino ang magnanakaw?” he asked.
The crowd replied, “Erap!”
“Ay hindi pala kayo nagsisinungaling. Totoo pala ang sinasabi ninyo,” Lim added.
Reelectionist Estrada kicked off his campaign to extend his term as Manila mayor at the Liwasang Bonifacio not only with his slate, but also with his wife former Senator Ma. Luisa Loi Ejercito and Senator JV Ejercito. His running mate is incumbent councilor Dr. Honey Lacuna-Pangan
Presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe and vice presidential aspirant Senator Bongbong Marcos were also present to accept Estrada’s endorsement.
“Siya ang magnanakaw. Kitang-kita, may ebidensya eh. May dokumento eh. Siya maglabas ng dokumento na may ninakaw ako,” chuckled Estrada in a report on GMA News TV’s “State of the Nation with Jessica Soho”.
Before he ran for the Manila mayorship, Estrada was ousted from the Philippine presidency in a 2001 in a second EDSA Revolt. He was later arrested and found guilty of plunder. He was pardoned by his successor then President and present Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2007.