Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim finally broke his silence and answered the issues hurled against him by his vice mayor and the camp of his apparent rival in the 2013 elections, former President Joseph Estrada.
In a statement yesterday, Lim dismissed the complaints against him as mere lies and muckraking typically coming from trapos (traditional politicians).
Lim, a former Manila police chief, began his counterattack on the eve of what the Estrada camp called his “official transfer” to his Manila residence at 589 Mangga Ave. in Altura, Sta Mesa.
An advisory from Estrada’s media group yesterday said he will lead a convoy this morning from his home on Polk Street, North Greenhills, San Juan, to the Sta. Mesa property that he bought from the Legarda family.
The roadshow promises to be vintage Erap. Estrada, a former movie star, will drive the “Jeep Ni Erap” vehicle used in previous election campaigns, said his media officer, Ferdie Ramos.
The convoy will include vehicles for Estrada’s allies in Manila, as well as a truck for some furniture and personal effects, like an aparador (cabinet), as added symbolism for the change of residence, Ramos told the Inquirer.
Estrada’s move was evidently timed to meet the one-year residency requirement for local electoral candidates. The 75-year-old politician, however, has only dropped hints and telling gestures—like his recent gift-giving activities on Lim’s turf—and has yet make an official announcement whether he will challenge Lim, 82.
In 2008, Mayor Lim, then head of Estrada’s party Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, had a falling-out with the ex-President after the latter denounced as “inhuman” the manner by which a councilor was bodily carried out of a family-owned slaughterhouse that was to be taken over by the city.
“Stop discrediting me because that’s what traditional politicians do. It’s only natural that if we act, people get affected. That’s about it, we cannot satisfy everybody,” Lim said yesterday.
The mayor cited the rationale behind some of his decisions that were now being questioned by Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, such as the recent layoff of city hall workers and the nondisbursement of salaries and financial aid to employees like teachers and policemen.
Domagoso cited these issues as among the reasons why he and 28 other councilors decided to join Estrada’s party for the 2013 polls.
Lim said he was simply complying with a Commission on Audit memorandum issued in March stating that the city government had overpaid P1.1 billion in salaries in 2011.
He said he was advised by COA to freeze hiring and reduce temporary and casual employees, including researchers and consultants in all offices, including his own.
As to the financial assistance, Lim also cited a COA memo issued two years ago which stopped the disbursement for purportedly being tantamount to “double compensation.”
“They (my critics) make me look like a cruel person … [but] I can’t question COA orders. I have to follow them or I will face charges. This is obviously an attempt to discredit me,” he said in Filipino.
Lim also reacted to media statements recently made by Estrada, who took a swipe at the mayor for supposedly having done nothing of significance to improve Manila.
“If I’ve done nothing, how come we have six public hospitals and even free college education?” Lim said, adding that more high-rise buildings had sprouted in Manila since his administration took over in 2007. With a report from Ann Clariz Yap