POSTSCRIPT / February 3, 2013 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Can Erap save Manila from further decaying?

ERAP ON THE GO: When one meets former President Erap Estrada, the conversation turns to politics, punctuated now and then with his trade-mark Eraptions.

He was about to leave for a sortie in Manila, whose mayorship he wants to capture, when I bumped into him the other day. He looked trim in his orange campaign jacket with “Erap para sa mahirap” emblazoned at the back.

Why orange? That has been his battle color of long standing in Puersa ng Masang Pilipino.

I understand the hint of yellow in orange since he has been a fan of former President Cory Aquino after she publicly apologized to him for her part in the Edsa-2 Revolt that forced him to vacate Malacañang in 2001.

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RESISTANCE: The red part in orange reminds one of Grand Alliance for Democracy days when, after Edsa-1, Erap and Juan Ponce Enrile made it to the Senate despite the overwhelming popularity of the Cory ticket.

Erap was one of two mayors (the other one was Dick Gordon of Olongapo) who refused to step down when Cory, exercising dictatorial powers, ordered all local offices vacated. Erap asserted that only the people who elected him may remove him.

Why then did he leave Malacañang in 2001 at the height of Edsa-2? The main consideration, he said, was that making a last stand in the Palace could result in bloodshed — and he did not want that.

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URBAN RENEWAL: Many surveys I have seen put Erap ahead of incumbent Mayor Fred Lim, who seems to be running scared.

If you make it to City Hall, I asked Erap, what will be your program aside from the usual upgrading of essential services such as those for health and sanitation, peace and order?

He mentioned Urban Renewal as a key feature of his program that will be announced in a few weeks. “Ayaw na ng tao sa madiLIM,” he quipped

Urban renewal struck a chord in me as I and many others have noticed that Manila, the national capital, the supposed Pearl of the Orient Seas, has become filthy. Manila is very dirty despite the gargantuan waste disposal contract in effect.

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MANILA DROPS: Isn’t it a demotion for a former president to slide down to being city mayor? He replied, “Genuine service to the people does not confine itself to any socio-political level or geographical location.”

Erap expressed alarm that in the survey of the Department of the Interior and Local Government under the late Jesse Robredo, Manila had fallen to 36th place among 38 major cities assessed.

The Commission on Audit also reported last August that the city government had unpaid debts running to P3.533 billion, or more than three times its cash holdings.

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MISSING COLLECTIONS: With the capital city being rich in assets and resources, and teeming with opportunity, Erap asked why City Hall has a whopping P659 million in outstanding obligations.

City personnel, including teachers and policemen, complain they have not been getting their allowances. The city’s share in their GSIS, Pagibig and Philhealth contributions are reportedly also delayed.

The overdue electric bill is running into hundreds of millions, posing a big problem for essential services and security if the power distributor decides to cut the service.

Erap asked where collections are going. From parking fees alone, he noted, the city used to collect P120 million a year. Now it is down to a measly P37 million even with the increase in the number of vehicles. Somebody must be pocketing collections, he said.

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SLIPPING THRU: Two days ago, I posted on Twitter my experience that one sure way of avoiding being checked at a mall entrance is to innocently ask the security guard where the (name) shop is. As he fumbles for an answer you follow up with a related question.

By that time, the sekyu would have forgotten to frisk you, and you walk in untouched. It worked 100-percent all the time for me, but maybe not anymore since I’ve exposed it.

It must have been a slow day in the twitter world. Soon the usual crowd jumped in with their comments.

* * *

MARTILYO: Most of the reactors were obviously in a light mood, but I’m using only their initials since I’ve not secured their permission to reprint (slightly edited) their tweets:

PM — I have a feeling the “martilyo gang” members are aware of this.

Me — I doubt Martilyo Gang knows this trick. It’s my own patented modus. It worked 100% all times I’ve tried it. But now it’s out.

PM — LOL! Then you shouldn’t have tweeted that! 🙂

Me — As in overreaction to gun-related crimes, some dolt might insist now on a hammer ban or the licensing of hammers & similar tools.

LL — They should just install very clear, high-end CCTV, and a monitoring system that talks to the guards.

Me — Why not attach automatic guns to CCTV cameras so we simply shoot robbers or anyone carrying a hammer?

NP — Ban mall-based hardware stores from selling hammer and pipe wrench? There are gun shops in malls.

CN — Or why not make possession of hammers illegal? 🙂

TL — Hardware stores should be outside mall, so when you go in with a hammer, you’re detected.

Me — It might just turn out robbers didn’t use hammers. Cops’ “martilyo” theory was too pat. CCTV video looked old.

MV — They used llave tubo (wrench), not hammer, they bought from one store in the mall!

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 3, 2013)

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