3-Cornered Mayoralty Fight Looms in Manila in 2019

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By VIC ENDRIGA
MANILA (PhlTodayUSA) –  At this point in time it can already be said that it will definitely be a three-way fight for the post of Manila mayor in May next year.

The filing of the certificates of candidacy is just a little over four months away, this coming October. And the protagonists are presently finalizing their slates for all the six districts.  City Hall insiders said Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada has reportedly come to terms with former 5th District Congressman Amado Bagatsing as running mate.

Close confidants of Erap explain that Bagatsing is capable of delivering a big win for the mayor in the 5th district, not to mention the strong organization of his local party Kabaka in the five other districts.

But some other aides of the former President are against the Estrada-Bagatsing tandem as it will be a ticket of septuagenarians. It won’t have any appeal with millennials. This bloc of Erap political lieutenants want Erap to pick youthful and handsome looking Arsenic Lacson, son and namesake of Manila’s most colorful Mayor Arsenio Lacson.

Arsenic Lacson is actually a fair-haired boy of Estrada. He appointed the young Lacson to three key positions, no less : as director of the Manila Barangay Bureau, director of the Parks Management & Development Office and head of the City Hall Disaster & Crisis Response & Management Office.

His advisers believe that Lacson can neutralize the strong youth appeal of mayoralty aspirant Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, presently undersecretary for Luzon Operations of the Department of Social Welfare & Development. Whether it is Bagatsing or Lacson as vice mayor, it will still be a tough challenge to win a third and final term for Erap.

Estrada will face a strong challenge from Moreno and multi-term former Mayor Alfredo Lim., who lost in 2016 by a mere 2,634 votes.

Lim is reported to team up with second district three-term Congressman Carlo Lopez. Negotiations between the two camps are expected to be finalized in the next few weeks. A Lim-Lopez ticket is expected to solidify their hold of the first and second congressional districts. Carlo’s first cousin Manny Lopez is the incumbent congressman of the first district while his 2nd district stronghold will be taken over by Atty. Alex Lopez who is being supported by more than 80% of the newly elected barangay chairmen.

Moreno, on the other hand, will team up with incumbent Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan.

All three mayoralty candidates are vying to be named official administration candidate. Estrada is counting on his closeness with President Duterte while Moreno is counting on his close link with former fellow vice mayor and now Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte and SAP Bong Go.

Lim, on the other hand. counts on the support of former Senate President Koko Pimentel, who is also president of the administration party PDP Laban. Lim took his oath as PDP Laban member before Pimentel in January this year. Lopez can seek the help of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, PDP Laban secretary general;  to firm up their chance of being declared official administration ticket for Manila.

Estrada has his own political party Partido ng Masang Pilipino while Moreno is member of Manny Villar’s Nacionalista Party. Moreno also heads the local party Asenso Manilenyo.

Lim and Lopez appears to have a stronger congressional line up than their opponents. Aside from the Tondo 1 and 2, they will also have former Congressman Harry Angping for the 3rd district, incumbent Rep. Erwin Maceda for the 4th district, Coun. Erwin Tieng for the 5th district and a sister of incumbent Rep. Rosenda Ocampo for the 6th district.

The Estrada-Bagatsing slate, meanwhile, will have two incumbent representatives in the ticket – Yul Servo, 3rd district; and Cystal Bagatsing, fifth district. Former three-term Congressman Atong Asilo is expected to carry the PMP banner in the first district while if will be three term Councilor Rod “Ninong” Lacsamana for the 2nd district. There is no final choice yet for the fourth district  while it will be multi-term Councilor Cassy Sison for the 6th district.

The Moreno-Pangan ticket, meanwhile, has no clear congressional line up yet, except for former Congressman Benny Abante who is set to recapture his old set in the 6th district.

It maybe noted that nobody seems interested in running under the Liberal Party banner.
Earlier, it was reported that former Senate President and Speaker Manuel B. Villar Jr. who was born in Tondo, Manila was eyeing the mayorship due to frequent visits and undertaking of projects by his wife, Sen. Cynthia Villar, in the city, especially in the vote-rich Tondo districts.
Senator Villar, however, has denied the reports, adding her husband, who is one of the richest Filipinos, is concentrating on their business which is expanding. Their son, former Las Pinas City Congressman and now Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, has remained mum like his father on the reports.
It was also reported that former three-term mayor Jose Atienza Jr., now a party-list congressman, was also gearing up for possible comeback, but the congressman has not made any public pronouncement on the plan.  (Vic Endriga with Jo Erlinda M. Gabot/philippinestodayusa@gmail.com)