Philippines: Erap Estrada endorses leftist leader Neri Colmenares for senator


MANILA, Philippines – Former President now Manila Mayor Joseph "Erap" Estrada on Wednesday, September 30, endorsed leftist congressman Neri Colmenares for Philippine senator in the 2016 elections.

"At, hindi pa man naidaraos ang 2016 elections, sumasaludo na ako sa isa sa ating magiging bagong senador," he said of Colmenares in his remarks during the Makabayan's 3rd National Congress and Party Convention.

(And, even way before the conduct of the 2016 elections, I already like to greet one of those who will become our new senators.)

Makabayan is the bloc of leftist organizations that are represented in the Lower House of Congress.

The Manila mayor delivered a speech interrupted by his signature witticisms to a crowd of mostly Makabayan supporters donning red shirts at the San Andres Sports Complex in Manila.

Estrada touted the pro-poor agenda of the Makabayan bloc.

"Your preparations for the 2016 national elections are a firm indication of your commitment to be part of our nation's progress, an equitable and balanced progress that gives every Filipino – especially those from marginalized sectors – the chance to achieve a better quality of life," he said, thereafter joking about being able to deliver the said statement in English.

Estrada outlined measures he enforced when he was president that, he said, lifted the economic burden of the masses. These included preventing electricity rate hikes and train fare hikes.

Estrada had run as president under a platform of prioritizing the poor, making "Erap para sa mahirap (Erap for the poor)" a Filipino catchphrase.


“Cong. Neri is the first candidate I chose to endorse because I believe in him and his vision for our country,” Estrada added. He cited Colmenares’ role in stopping a rate hike born out of generation charges or the cost of producing electricity from being passed on to consumers.

Colmenares was among the petitioners that successfully secured a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court (SC ) against the record-high rate increase of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco).

He had argued before the SC that distribution firm Meralco artificially inflated the rate by buying from the spot market electricity supply that it had already bought beforehand. Meralco countered by citing the must-bid rule where generation or supply companies are required to bid in the market, including companies Meralco had contracted.

Imagine the magnitude of what Colmenares can do as a senator, Estrada told the crowd.

“Kinikilala ko ang inyong samahan bilang tagapagsulong ng reporma sa pamahalaan at lipunan,” he said. (I recognize your organization as a driver of reform in government and society.)

The Makabayan bloc has also repeatedly called for a P16,000-per-month nationwide minimum wage and the lowering of income taxes. It has also opposed tuition fee increase, train fare increase, and increases in members' contributions to the state health insurance and social insurance systems.

'Ganyan kayo kalakas'

The mayor joked that he ordered the expedited renovation of Wednesday’s venue in time for Makabayan's convention.

“Ganyan kayo kalakas sa akin. Any tanong ko lang, ako naman ba eh malakas din sa inyo?” he quipped. (That’s how important you are to me. My question is, am I important to you?)

Estrada is in his first term as Manila mayor, saying 3 years ago that he would only sit as chief executive of Manila for a single term to make way for his then running mate and now Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno.

He won by a relatively slim margin of over 30,000 votes against his rival, then re-electionist Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.

Estrada said he is confident he will be aligning by the 2016 elections with the same party as Moreno, who recently hinted at a 2016 candidacy for a higher post.

Erap Estrada endorses Bongbong Marcos for VP

By Jose Rodel Clapano

MANILA, Philippines - In what appeared to be a cue that he may run again for president in 2016, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada endorsed yesterday the vice presidential bid of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Estrada, guest speaker during the proclamation of Marcos as a vice presidential candidate, said he is giving his full support because of the lawmaker’s long experience as a local government chief executive.

Marcos served as vice governor and governor of Ilocos Norte before he became a congressman and a senator.

“The most handsome, intelligent and young senator. I did not have any second thoughts and I didn’t find it difficult to decide and do this,” Estrada said.

Describing Marcos as very qualified, hardworking and intelligent, Estrada asked his constituents in Manila to give Marcos the opportunity to prove his worth and work as a vice president of the country.

Estrada also credited the Marcoses for helping him when he was still San Juan mayor and the former first lady Imelda Marcos, the senator’s mother, for the distribution of 157 hectares of land to 27,000 families in Tondo, Manila in 1977.

“In the name of the Manileños, we thanked you (Mrs. Marcos) for your big help to Manila. You also established the Bliss projects, which benefited thousands of homeless in Manila. Manileños, let’s pay our debt of gratitude to Sen. Bongbong Marcos by voting for him for vice president in 2016. Manileños know how to pay their debt of gratitude,” Estrada said.

Marcos, who addressed Estrada as President-Mayor, said he decided to hold his proclamation as a vice presidential candidate in honor of Filipino heroes Gen. Antonio Luna, Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procopio and Jose Rizal.

“I was inspired when I watched the movie of Gen. Luna, that is why I decided to hold my proclamation as vice presidential candidate here in Gen. Luna Street…We are not yet fully freed. The election in May is only the start of the fight against poverty. Let us not be swayed by politicking. Judge the candidates through their programs,” he said.

Marcos cited the presence of criminal syndicates, drug lords, gambling lords and police protectors as among the problems the country faces.

He also lambasted the Aquino administration for having inept and corrupt officials in the agency that is operating the Metro Rail Transport (MRT).

“The parents leave their houses while their children are still asleep and they return to their homes when their children are already asleep. They are suffering daily because of the inefficient MRT. We have an MRT, but it is malfunctioning. The reason is that the officials in MRT are corrupt and they lack knowledge,” Marcos said.

Marcos also said that graft and corruption have been rampant in the Bureau of Customs (BOC) where smuggling thrives.

“Trillions of pesos were lost for four years because of smuggling. We know the smugglers, but why are they playing blind? How much is the reason? Our country has been made a dumping ground of foreign country’s waste. The garbage was dumped in Clark and Pampanga. How much is the reason? There is also rice smuggling. How much again is the reason? Smuggling continues. There is also no water for irrigation. 130,000 houses are needed in the areas destroyed by Yolanda, but only 10,000 housing units are so far constructed. Where are the billions of donations from foreign countries? In Zamboanga, the victims of the encounter between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are still in temporary shelters,” Marcos said.

Marcos also recalled the death of 44 commandos of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“Until now, justice has not been served,” Marcos said.

Marcos said for his 30 years in public service, he has seen the suffering of the people, that is why he is accepting the challenge and he is running for vice president in 2016.

“Why one must die for lack of money to buy medicine and for lack of doctors to treat them? We did not place them in their high posts to see to their personal interests and to destroy their enemies while their allies are enjoying. If you are an ally, you are good. If you are an enemy, you are done,” Marcos said.

“We are all Filipinos. No one will love us, except our fellow Filipinos,” Marcos said.

Marcos also vowed to return discipline among the Filipino people once he becomes vice president.

“I will lead the revolution in my heart, mind and work. I will not allow anyone to take any part of our country. I will work to return the respect of other countries to us as Filipinos with dignity, humble, god-fearing and respectful to the elders and our parents,” Marcos said.


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