The supremo must be turning in his grave as some local politicians used Friday’s commemorative activities held in his honor to also take a swipe at their opponents in next year’s elections.
Reelectionist Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim marked the city’s celebration of Andres Bonifacio’s 149th birth anniversary with a speech digging up the past of his chief rival, former President Joseph Estrada—or at least the former movie star’s claim to fame as an onscreen “hoodlum.”
Speaking on the same occasion in Caloocan City, Mayor Enrico “Recom” Echiverri warned against the reign of “narco-politics,” weeks after an opposition politician was recently dragged into a P50-million drug bust.
During wreath-laying rites at Bonifacio Shrine near City Hall, Lim said the valor exemplified by Bonifacio, a native Manileño who founded the secret society Katipunan in the late 1800s to launch an armed struggle for Philippine independence from Spain, showed that the city had long been the cradle of heroes.
But it is also true that “Manila has its share of hoodlums, gangsters and enemies of the law like Asiong Salonga. I am just saying the truth because I’m saddened that the lives of these gangsters are turned into movies,” he said.
Salonga was one of the roles that made Estrada famous in the 1960s.
“Asiong had seven (criminal) records—illegal possession of firearms, robbery with homicide, etc. He was killed by another robber in a squabble over their loot. That’s the true Asiong Salonga,” Lim said of the real-life gang leader from Tondo who rose to notoriety from the late 1940s to the early ’50s.
“Our love for Bonifacio should translate into passionate, honorable and clean service for the city. Not (into support for) those who steal from public coffers,” Lim said.
At Bonifacio Memorial Circle in Monumento, Caloocan, Echiverri said “the true sons and daughters of Caloocan will not allow to be ruled by people with a crooked sense of morality and conscience. We will not allow so-called ‘narco-politics’ in Caloocan! We will not allow people who would push our youths to vices just to see them ascend to power.”
Echiverri did not name names but his warning on narco-politics came after the name of a Caloocan vice mayoral candidate, Antonio Mariano Almeda, cropped up in connection with a big drug bust in Makati City two weeks ago.
Almeda had to issue public denials following the arrest of a suspected American drug dealer who police said later led them to a government-owned Mitsubishi Pajero loaded with nine kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu.”
The Pajero was later traced to the National Power Corp., which later said that it lent the vehicle to Almeda in 2008 when he was still the chief of staff of Ang Galing Pinoy Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, son of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In media statements, Almeda distanced himself from the vehicle, claiming he had already returned the Pajero to Napocor in 2009. He also denied any link to the arrested American, Brian Hills.
Almeda and his mayoral running mate Oscar Malapitan, the incumbent representative of Caloocan’s 1st District, are being fielded by Estrada’s United Nationalist Alliance.