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At Large

Dirty Harry in sandals

/ 12:14 AM December 02, 2015

He came to yesterday’s Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel with feet shod in sandals, giving him a youthful vibe. I would have advised him to keep wearing the trendy footwear had he not confessed that he was in sandals because of a foot ailment.

Well, sandals or not, former Manila Mayor Fred Lim, the legendary “Dirty Harry” of Manila politics who is now gunning for another term, seems plenty capable of not just campaigning but even administering the wild and wooly capital city. Though he confessed to already being 86 years old, Lim said he was confident he could still muster the strength and energy to solve all of Manila’s many problems. “I still run and walk around every morning and I watch my health,” he said. And, added forum moderator Deedee Siytangco: “He has a 10-year-old son,” the youngest of four children from his second marriage.

The revelation draws oohs and aahs from the audience, and invites comparisons with Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who made a social media splash with his indelicate remarks directed at Pope Francis.


But making even more of a splash were the photos taken during Duterte’s “proclamation” in Taguig, bailiwick of his running mate Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano. Photos from that event showed Duterte consorting with women supporters, some of them seated on his lap, holding hands and smiling broadly.

Asked what he thought of this, Lim sounds conciliatory, saying that perhaps Duterte just didn’t want to “disappoint” the ladies. Given his own romantic history, Duterte’s confessions about two marriages and two girlfriends, and the very public affairs of Lim’s rival Erap Estrada, one can’t but conclude that the Philippines is still very much “macho country.”

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“I admire him,” Lim says of Duterte, whose hardline approach to “taking care” of criminals echoes his own no-holds-barred attitude. Although he is a member of the Liberal Party, Lim says he has already talked with party leaders, including LP presidential bet Mar Roxas, about his inclination to support Duterte.

But aside from sweeping clean the streets of Manila from criminal elements, homeless street dwellers and vagrants, Lim says he is determined to return Manila to the state the city was in during his term, especially to restore free health services in the city hospitals he put up. He is particularly incensed that the free health services have been terminated in these hospitals and that even the poor now need to pay for hospitalization.

To charges that he left the city government “bankrupt,” Lim offers signed copies of statements from city treasurer Liberty Toledo, an Erap appointee. The documents show a balance of more than P800 million in the city treasury at the time of Lim’s departure, and P778 million deposited in government banks. Toledo, Lim points out, was taken out of the city treasurer’s post upon his recommendation, but was brought back by Erap. “So there is no reason for her to lie in my favor.”

Surveys show Lim leading in polls among Manila’s voters, a surprise given Erap’s enduring popularity with the “masa” voters, and the fact that he is the incumbent. But maybe Manila residents know better than most what the old city needs, even if it is the return of an 86-year-old political veteran who talks tough against criminality but apparently believes in a caring society.

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Recently, I wrote about the printing of the excise tax stamps, used mainly for so-called “sin tax” products, by the APO Production Unit, a government printing outfit that does security printing of such sensitive documents as passports, official forms and the aforementioned stamps.

Well, not only are the APO-printed stamps helping the government collect taxes more efficiently, these have also been recognized by an international body.

The excise tax stamps won the top awards for Best Design and Best Tax Stamp Program in the prestigious international awards for Excellence in Tax Stamps. The same stamps received a commendation in a third category: Best New Innovation.

This year’s winners were announced and awarded during a ceremony that climaxed the Tax Stamp Forum, which took place in Miami, Florida, attended by some 250 international delegates.

The Excellence in Tax Stamps awards recognize outstanding contributions by individuals and organizations in tax stamp design, technological innovation, and implementation and enforcement in tax stamp programs. Each of the three award categories highlights the important role that tax stamp programs play in combating illicit trade and protecting tax revenues.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the excise tax stamp program—the designers, officials of APO, and Bureau of Internal Revenue officials led by Commissioner Kim Henares who awarded the contract to APO as a reflection of government’s intent to collect the rightful taxes from “sin” products.

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Thinking this early about where to put the remains of the Christmas bonus? Why not reward yourself and your loved ones with a trip to Batanes? The northernmost islands of the Philippines are fast becoming a favorite destination of vacationers searching for adventure and for something “different.”

Join the Mandy Navasero Batanes Photo Safari (which the noted photographer began mounting in 2006) for a quick, easy and convenient booking. Open slots are still available for Jan. 8-11, Feb. 2-5, 12-15, and 19-22, and April 1-4.

“How many times has a traveler been in a place so beautiful that the heart simply wants to break into song?” is Mandy’s tempting come-on. For inquiries, e-mail or call 8963208 or 09167463883 or drop by Room 329, LRI Design Plaza, 210 Nicanor Garcia Street, Bel-Air II, Makati.

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TAGS: Alfredo Lim, Dirty Harry, Elections 2016, Joseph Estrada, MANILA, Rodrigo Duterte
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