MANILA (Mabuhay) – Contradicting his earlier statement that serving as mayor of the country’s capital will only be a one-shot affair, former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada on Wednesday expressed intention of seeking re-election in 2016.
Estrada said though nothing is final yet, he is likely to seek re-election in next year’s local and national elections.
“Kung ako tatanungin, wala naman akong ibang plano kundi sakali, baka mag-run ako for re-election as mayor of Manila,” Estrada, more popularly known as Erap, said.
Estrada bared this a day after the Supreme Court affirmed its earlier ruling dismissing the disqualification case filed against him by Alicia Vidal, the legal counsel of former Manila mayor Alfredo Lim, Estrada’s rival in the 2013 elections.
In its ruling, the SC found Estrada eligible when he ran as Manila mayor in 2013, saying his civil and political rights were restored when he was given absolute pardon in 2007 by then-President and current Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Asked if he still intends to run for higher office, specifically as president, following the favorable Supreme Court ruling, Estrada said: “Wala na. Tapos na ako roon. Ang gusto ko ngayon ay maibalik natin ang image of Manila as the ‘Pearl of the Orient.’”
Estrada said it becomes a great challenge for him to bring back the progress of Manila, following the huge amount of debts allegedly left its past leaders.
“Naging malaking hamon sa akin ang ibalik ang sigla at kaunlaran ng Manila. Bangkarote ang Manila nung dinatnan natin. Mahigit P4 bilyon ang utang na inabot nung dinatnan natin,” he said.
Estrada said he and his councilors immediately crafted measures that would help increase the revenue of the city, such as by increasing real property tax. he said that by June of this year, the city may already reach a “debt-free” status.
Estrada, however, said that the reforms that he initiated in the city must be properly implemented in the following years. He also said that many reforms have yet to be done to sustain the city’s improving economic condition.
“Naging malaking hamon talaga sa akin ang ibalik ang sigla ng Maynila… Pero marami pang dapat gawin dito sa Maynila,” said Estrada, a former movie actor who started his political career as mayor of San Juan City.
Asked on who may be his running-mate should he finally decide to seek re-election, Estrada said he may have to choose among the current councilors of the city.
“Wala pa. Pero namimili pa tayo. Maraming magagaling dito sa aking mga konsehal,” Estrada said.
He said incumbent Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno might run in the Senatorial race in 2016.
“Si Pareng Isko, tingin ko gusto niya ng higher office. Gusto niya tumakbo as Senator. At para sa akin, qualified naman talaga siya. Marunong naman at talagang masipag,” he said.
The 77-year-old Estrada started serving as San Juan mayor in 1969. He was elected senator in 1987 and vice president in 1992.
He won the 1998 presidential elections, but was ousted in 2001 following allegations of corruption. He was convicted of plunder and sentenced to life imprisonment in September 2007 by the Sandiganbayan. Arroyo’s pardon came a month later.
In the 2010 elections, Estrada ran for president, but placed only second to then-Senator Benigno Aquino III. He was elected mayor of Manila in 2013. (MNS)