Quantcast

Editorial

Characters


The city of Manila has experienced many things in its historic existence. The Philippine capital for decades, Manila has seen war and foreign occupation, fire and violent protest actions, urban sprawl and modern makeovers. And look what’s touted as coming in 2013: the so-called “Battle for Manila,” which earned the colorful and foreboding tag “Dirty Harry versus Asiong Salonga”—an expected face-off between two controversial characters, both politicians of long standing but a study in contrast, for the city mayor’s post. (The chances of it taking place is 50-50, according to the latter.)

“Dirty Harry” is of course the incumbent, the tough-as-nails Alfredo Lim, who regained the Manila mayor’s seat after an aborted reach for the presidency and a stint as a senator. In his two previous terms as mayor, Lim was known for his sweeping crackdown on the city’s red-light district and relentless crusade against criminals, particularly drug dealers, that bordered on vigilantism (hence the nickname). He’s an ex-cop said to strike fear in both hardened criminal and ordinary citizen, but is also a square guy. And as though to prove that the city still remembered that fearsome image, Lim was reelected in 2007. He faced charges of human rights abuse in 2008 but that did not stop his election for a fourth term in 2010. And to think he’s all of 82.

“Asiong Salonga” is no one else but. Joseph Estrada just celebrated his 75th birthday with a bash that showed his undiminished connections in the public and private sectors despite his ouster as president and a plunder conviction. He was born in Manila but has a long history as mayor of San Juan, his family’s bailiwick to this day. The dude who earned his moniker from portraying the Robin-Hood-style gangster on the silver screen is a celebrated ladies’ man (12 children by six women) in the only country left in the world that does not recognize divorce. An ex-senator as well, he landed a respectable second to Benigno Aquino III in the 2010 presidential election, leading many to concede that “Erap” is still a potent political force.

Lim has been reported as keeping an indifferent stance to the possible blockbuster duel. “It’s too early to think about that. Let’s keep working instead,” he told reporters.

But Estrada is not being coy and is not above dropping meaningful hints, claiming that Salonga’s home ground of Tondo has a “sentimental value” to him. He also laments that Manila is no longer among the metropolis’ finest: “It’s sad because Manila is the capital city. It’s supposed to be a showcase city. It needs urban renewal.” He is obviously enjoying the attention as a likely candidate: “I’m not concerned about stature. I don’t care if I [had been] a president. I started my political career as a mayor. Who knows? I might end it as a mayor as well.”

It would be interesting if it weren’t so bizarre. The thing is, Estrada will have to move from his residence in posh Greenhills, San Juan, to Manila by May 13 to qualify for the mayoral race, according to the Commission on Elections. That’s right: The man doesn’t live there.

The “turf war” promises to be exciting, as many electoral races are in this country. But the question has to be asked: Is the recycling of these two fixtures in the political scene really the best that Manila can look forward to? Or are they sending in the clowns? Adding to the cast of previously seen characters is former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, he of the distinctive Hawaiian shirts and the splinter “Liberal Party” who is said to be planning to run as vice mayor. Haven’t the residents of Manila experienced enough?

Where are the young, up-and-coming forces for change? Who will bring something different, new and out of the box to the table? Any dark horses out there? Don’t the one-and-a-half million people of Manila deserve much better?

In many ways, the potential hot race for the Manila mayor’s seat reflects the flawed way by which Filipinos elect their officials—mainly smoke and mirrors, with a significant part riding on legend instead of track record. It’s also a demonstration of the crying need for alternative candidates, especially on the local level.

The city of Manila can be great again if its residents decide to vote to give it a new lease on life and a different path. Otherwise, it’s still a year away from the elections, but the madness has already started.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=27277

Tags: Alfredo Lim , editorial , Elections , Joseph Estrada , LGUs , Local authorities , Local elections , Local Government Units , MANILA , opinion , politics



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • Ukraine FM: We are ready to fight Russia
  • Slain officer’s ‘diagram’ rocks PNP
  • 2 contractors fined P25,000 for delays in Edsa rehab
  • Luisita beneficiaries take over renters
  • 5 years of hard work pay off for top UP grad
  • Sports

  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Galedo caps ride of redemption
  • Beermen, Express dispute second semis slot today
  • Lady Agilas upset Lady Bulldogs in four sets
  • NLEX roars to 7th D-League win
  • Lifestyle

  • A brand for life
  • Wear a rainbow on your wrist
  • Wearing Kate Moss
  • Sail into summer
  • Life lessons from the Ultimate Warrior
  • Entertainment

  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • OMB exec’s assurance: We work 24/7
  • Business

  • Gaming stocks gain, PSEi eases on profit-taking
  • Cebu Pacific flew 3.74M passengers as of March
  • Corporate bonds sweeteners
  • Professionals in the family business
  • Foreign funds flowed out in Q1, says BSP
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • A graduation story
  • Global Nation

  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • Career diplomat is new PH consul general in Los Angeles
  • US4GG: Aquino should ask Obama for TPS approval, drone technology
  • Complex health care system for California’s elderly and poor explained
  • Tiff with HK over Luneta hostage fiasco finally over
  • Marketplace