“Dirty Harry” just had to shoot back.
Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim on Friday lashed back at former President Joseph Estrada, his rival in next year’s mayoral elections, saying the coming polls are not about making glowing promises and waging black propaganda—not even about scoring high in the looks department.
The 2013 contest is giving Manileños a rather narrow range of choices between an 82-year-old reelectionist who earned the moniker “Dirty Harry” for his controversial crime-fighting methods during his days in the police force, and a 75-year-old actor-turned-politician who once portrayed the Manila hoodlum known as “Asiong Salonga.”
Lim was reacting to Estrada’s tirades made on Thursday at a Rotary Club gathering at the upscale Forbes Park in Makati City, wherein the latter described the city as having deteriorated into a “basket case” of criminality and urban blight under Lim’s administration.
And when asked later in an open forum what he would consider his advantage over Lim, Estrada deadpanned: “No. 1, I am more handsome. No. 2, I am younger. And No. 3, I have a good track record as (then) mayor of San Juan and in wiping out crimes in Metro Manila (during his presidency).”
In a statement, Lim did not refer to Estrada by name but the tone and timing was obvious. “Traditional politicians will promise to uplift the lives of the poor to court votes. But those are just words. The question is: What have they accomplished?” he added.
“This is about who gives clean and honest service to the people. If you have no accomplishment to boast of, do you have to smear other people’s name?” the mayor said. “It’s really up to the public to judge who really had accomplished much.”
“And this is not a fight about who’s ugly and who’s handsome,” Lim said. “Real beauty is what’s inside.”
Lim then churned out the numbers, saying his administration had so far built 97 new public school buildings, 12 lying-in clinics and 61 health centers. He said the city government also provides free college education and free hospital services.
He warned that these programs might be discontinued if another mayor takes over.
Even the Manila Police District director got into the act and countered Estrada’s punch line about Manila giving a new meaning to the country’s campaign tourism slogan, “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” In his Rotary Club speech, the former President said the city saw much “kidnap-fun, holdup-fun, and carnap-fun” under Lim’s watch.
“We are not remiss in our duties,” MPD chief Senior Supt. Alex Gutierrez maintained in a press briefing attended by his station commanders.
“No kidnapping case has been recorded in Manila. Fifteen suspects have been arrested for car theft. There have been 35 holdup and robbery-related police encounters wherein 54 suspects were killed and 39 firearms were recovered,” Gutierrez stressed. “It so happened that the suspects in these areas were resisting arrest, that’s why many of them were killed.”