THE raging “word war” between former President Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim reached the University of the Philippines (UP) campus in Manila on Wednesday, to the delight of students who organized the “face-off” through a debate dubbed “Thrilla in UP Manila.”There, in what could be considered as the bitter rivals’ Round 2 of last Monday’s exchange of barbs, Estrada resorted to the use of pun in piquing Lim.
The former president stressed that while the Department of Tourism is promoting the slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” the City of Manila has a slogan in promoting criminality and poverty.
“The [DOT] slogan is to attract more tourist in the Philippines, but in Manila there’s more fun too . . . kidnafun, carnafun, holdafun at kahirafun,” Estrada said, in reference to the alleged rise in kidnapping, carnapping, holdups and poverty.
Lim fended off Estrada’s tirades by stating that he clarified the issue with Manila Police District Chief Alex Gutierrez, who reported that there were only eight cases of car theft in Manila. All of these cases involved non-payment of mortgaged motorcycles.
He then launched on an offensive by bringing up Estrada’s conviction of plunder.
He said that if Estrada was innocent of the charges as he claims, he should have not accepted the pardon given by then President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“”Bakit hindi ka na-acquit and was sentenced with plunder. If you are innocent bakit ka nagmaka-awa. You will not accept the pardon, dapat umapela ka sa Supreme Court [Why were you not acquitted and in fact sentenced for plunder? If you are innocent, why beg? You should have appealed your case before the Supreme Court],” Lim told Estrada.
Estrada defended himself, saying his case was a class of its own because the justices who convicted him were handpicked by the High Court.
He cited the case of the late Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. who was convicted by the Military Commission and was sentenced to death. All of the generals who convicted him were also handpicked, similar to his case.
During the question and answer forum with parents, professors and students, the candidates gave their views on certain issues, again, while insulting each other.
“Paano magagawang mas safe ang paligid ng Manila, partikular sa UP Manila [How can you make Manila safer, particularly the vicinity of UP]?” a student asked.
Lim said he would remove all sidewalk vendors and illegal terminals in the area.
He clarified, however that he does not mean to imply that vendors are criminals.
But Estrada said vendors are giving money to corrupt policemen in exchange for their continued vending.
“Yang mga vendors ay may lagay. May pulis sa liwanag, may pulis sa dilim [Vendors give grease money to cops who are usually in dark corners]. It is the responsibility of the mayor to be sure of the integrity of his men,” he said.
With regards to the Pandacan oil depot, Lim said he would implement a stable policy to address the issue. He also vowed to change the surroundings of UP Manila.
“Rest assured that within two-week time there will be a complete change here in the vicinity,” he told the student.
Meanwhile, Estrada argued that there will be no economic growth as long as there is no peace and order as he offered the “last chapter” of his life to the service of Manilans.
For his parting shot, Lim criticized Estrada’s “pro-poor” stance.
“Sabi po ng ating magiting na Presidente, lahat gagawin para sa mahirap. Bakit kayo nasentensyahan ng paggalaw ng pera ng bayan [According to our great president he will do everything for the poor. Why were you sentenced for plundering the people’s money]?” he asked.