Estrada to support Poe against Binay
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada was at the Tap Room of the Manila Hotel last Dec. 11 to listen to Margaux Salcedo sing. I was seated beside him and we talked politics.
I said the survey ratings of his friend Vice President Jojo Binay are plunging while those of Sen. Grace Poe, another friend, are shooting up.
If the trend continues, the presidential race in 2016 may be a tossup between Binay and Poe, both of whom are his friends. “When that happens, whom will Erap and his Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino support?” I asked Erap pointblank.
Without hesitation, he answered: “I will have a difficult time, but I will choose Grace.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Grace is the daughter of my best friend FPJ (Fernando Poe Jr.) who is more than a brother to me,” Erap answered. “We have gone through a lot together. Together, we fought the Big Four criminal syndicate that was victimizing movie actors and actresses. When I ran for president, he helped me. He stopped making movies so he would have time to campaign for me.
“When it was his turn to run for president, I was not able to campaign for him because I was already imprisoned, although it was I who convinced him to run. Now that his daughter Grace may run for president, I have to help her. It’s the only way I can repay FPJ. My conscience will bother me if I don’t support her. Baka pag multuhan nya pa ako (He may even haunt me).”
“What about Binay?”
“Eh, bahala na siya.” It was Erap who helped Binay win as vice president in the 2010 elections. Binay was his running mate in the PMP ticket. Erap finished second to P-Noy but Binay beat Mar Roxas. Without Erap’s support, Binay could not have won.
After the elections, Binay announced he would go after the presidency (and he has been campaigning since then, in violation of the Commission on Elections rule against premature campaigning). Erap, Binay and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile then formed the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
When Binay had a falling out with his political party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban, a member of the UNA coalition, he left it and said he was going to form another party that would be a member of UNA. Until now, it is not known what that party is or who its members are besides the Binay family.
“What about you?” I asked Erap. “You are right behind the leaders in the rankings. If there is a public clamor for you, will you consider running for president?”
“I am 76 years old. I may be too old,” Erap answered. “My idol is President Ronald Reagan. He was a grade B movie actor but he became president of the United States, the most powerful nation in the world. If a grade B movie actor like him can be president, why not a grade A actor like me, I asked myself. So I ran for president and won.”
Erap continued: “Reagan said, ‘I want to retire while I can still carry my luggage.’ Me, I want to retire while I can still make love.” Erap is known as a ladies’ man and has had several partners with whom he has children.
“Does that mean you are losing your ability to make love?” I joked.
“Hindi naman, but I am getting old.”
After being pardoned by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Erap ran for mayor of Manila and won. The mayor of Manila has always been a contender for the presidency of the Philippines. At present, Erap is facing a disqualification case filed by former Manila mayor Alfredo Lim in the Supreme Court. The issue is whether or not the pardon allowed him to run for political office.
The language of the pardon is confusing, hence the controversy. The “whereas” clause says Erap has said he is withdrawing from all political activities, but the dispositive portion gave back all his civil rights, including the right to vote and be voted upon, which means that he can run for public office. Legal experts say the dispositive portion is superior to all the “whereas” clauses. If correct, then Erap can be a candidate for any public office.
The Supreme Court is reported to be ready to issue its decision.
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Erap can also have a career as a singer. He has the voice for it. He usually sings at the Tap Room gigs of Margaux Salcedo. Last Dec. 11, he sang “It’s Always You” which was repaid with a standing ovation.
Last Thursday, the Tap Room was overflowing, literally. There were so many fans who wanted to listen to Margaux. Extra tables and chairs had to be brought in, but fans still lined the bar and stood at the doorway to listen.
Celebrity singers usually drop in and Margaux invites them to sing. Last Thursday, jazz singer Sandra Lim Viray and Megan
Herrera sang several songs, besides Erap, to the delight of the crowd. Sandra is the wife of drummer Jun Viray (who is celebrating his birthday on Dec. 18). Megan is the widow of bassist Roger Herrera.
With Margaux singing regularly there, the Tap Room is attracting accomplished singers, music lovers and celebrities.
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