Estrada drops ‘Edsa 2’ jokes in speech before Rotary membersBy Erika Sauler
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — “Si Erap, hindi lang para sa mahirap, para din sa taga-Forbes Park. (Former President Joseph Estrada is not just for the poor, but also for the residents of Forbes Park,” the actor-turned-politician said on Thursday as guest speaker at a Rotary Club meeting.
Forbes Park is the premier subdivision for the rich in Makati City.
Estrada acknowledged that his audience at the Manila Polo Club was composed of business leaders, professionals and industry movers and shakers—the elite group that looked down on his being an actor since he joined politics and backed his ouster from the presidency in 2001.
“And if any of you were part of the conspiracy to remove me as the duly elected president of the Republic of the Philippines in the so-called Edsa Dos, I forgive you. But please don’t do it again,” Estrada said, which elicited a raucous laughter.
Estrada said his guesting was “a significant and groundbreaking milestone in the history of the Rotary Club of Forbes Park.”
“This will be the first time you will have an ex-convict as your guest speaker,” he told his amused audience, referring to his plunder conviction by the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Mrs. Arroyo, who was vice president in 2001, succeeded Estrada when his government collapsed amid massive street protests against government corruption.
“As you know, I am a member of the X-Men in this country—ex-mayor, ex-senator, ex-vice president, ex-president and ex-convict,” he said, which made the Rotarians laugh.
He brought up his bid to challenge Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim in the 2013 elections, saying that the capital city has become a “deplorable basket case of criminality, of constant flooding, of drug dens, of kotong cops, of decaying facilities and infrastructure, of slums and congestion.”
Estrada said that if the country’s tourism slogan was “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” in Manila, it’s “kidnap-fun, holdup-fun and carnap-fun.” He bragged that during his administration, the Philippine National Police had a high approval rating, and vowed that if he became Manila mayor, he would wipe out criminality to have a healthy business climate.
He said he has been planning to update the prices of real properties and computerize the tax system to single out delinquent property taxpayers, from which he said P764 million in taxes could be collected.
The former President who was convicted of plunder said he would ensure complete transparency in revenue collection and disbursement. “The people of the City of Manila will know where their taxes will go,” he said.
“I started my career in public service as a mayor, I find it quite reasonable and fitting to end it as a mayor in the last quarter of my life,” he said.
Estrada was asked about his stand on the Pandacan oil depot, the Bangsamoro framework agreement, political dynasties and jueteng through a panel of moderators by the members of the Rotary Club of Manila, Forbes Park, Manila East, Downtown Manila, Pasay and Pasay Southeast.
He said he would have to consult concerned stakeholders before deciding on whether to expel the oil companies in Manila.
Estrada, who declared an all-out war against the Moro secessionists during his presidency, expressed hope that the framework agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front would succeed in leading to lasting peace in Mindanao but he warned that breakaway groups had always disrupted the peace process in Mindanao.
On political dynasties, he said, “It’s the people’s choice. And what’s wrong if you want to follow the footsteps of your parents?”
He said jueteng should be legalized. “Money from the poor should be given back to the poor,” said Estrada, who was accused of receiving millions in jueteng payoff. “Why is gambling for rich legal, but gambling for poor is illegal?”
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