MANILA, Philippines — Joseph Estrada had a fun time crossing paths anew with his “rival” to the Manila mayoral post on Monday, but the familiar white-haired “Dirty Harry”-inspired persona has turned into “Harry Fatter,” a health wellness advocate.
“Madumi daw ang Maynila, eh wala tayong magagawa. Kaya nga Dirty Harry ang tawag sa akin. Pero may wellness program tayo para sa Maynila. Kapag malusog na ko, pwede nyo na kong tawaging Harry Fatter (They say Manila is dirty, and we can’t do anything about it, that’s why they call me Dirty Harry. But we have a wellness program for Manila. If I gain weight, you can call me Harry Fatter),” comic impersonator Willie Nepomuceno, who was mimicking incumbent Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, said.
Estrada had criticized the health services and the rise of gun-snatching cases in the city in a media forum that turned into a stand-up comedy when Nepomuceno showed up in character as Estrada’s rival, “Alfredo Lim.” The real incumbent Mayor Lim, a former police general and former head of the National Bureau of Investigation, has enjoyed being nicknamed “Dirty Harry” — the Clint Eastwood crime-fighting character — for his tough stance on crime. But on Monday, Nepomuceno showed up looking exactly like Lim, only this time, he introduced himself as “Harry Fatter,” with interests in wellness.
“I’m here to answer the lies and accusations from my rival,” said Nepomuceno who was sporting white hair and sunglasses in Lim’s likeness, eliciting laughter from the media practitioners in the weekly Kapihan sa Diamond Hotel.
Nepomuceno cracked jokes about the peace and order situation in Manila and “Lim’s” transformation from “Dirty Harry” to “Harry Fatter.” He again quipped about Estrada’s plunder conviction (the penalty for which did not take effect when previous president Gloria Arroyo pardoned Estrada), and the City Hall’s mounting debts under Lim.
“There is peace and order in Manila. Because of my order, the criminals are now in peace. Nananahimik na sila,” Nepomuceno as “Lim” joked.
In an interview with reporters, Estrada was asked to comment on cases of suspects in Manila being killed for reportedly grabbing the gun of policemen.
“Paiimbestigahan natin kung talaga bang nang-agaw. Kung nakagapos na, papapatay mo pa, that’s a violation of human rights,” he said.
Earlier, Estrada criticized Lim’s administration for not providing Manila’s six hospitals with enough medicines and equipment. The former president called for improving the barangay (village) health centers.
“Marami ngang ospital, pero kulang naman sa equipment at gamot. Dapat palakasin ang mga health centers sa barangay para ang mga may minor sickness hindi nagsisiksikan sa ospital, instead of maintaining six hospitals na malaking budget ang kailangan (There are indeed many hospitals here but they are short on equipment and medicines. The barangay health centers must be strengthened so that they could accommodate those with minor sickness and prevent overcrowding in major hospitals, instead of maintaining six hospitals with huge budgetary requirements),” Estrada said.
“Pero andyan na yan, alagaan na lang at bigyan ng budget. Katulad na lang ng Ospital ng Tondo, hindi pa rin gawa ang elevator (But the hospitals are there; let’s just take care of them and given them budgets. For example the Ospital ng Tondo still has no working elevator),” he said.
The Manila City Council recently scrapped the mayor’s intelligence fund worth P191.5 million and slashed the Office of the Mayor’s budget from P198 million to P117 million. The money was realigned to the capital outlay of the six hospitals.
Estrada shrugged off the report linking his son, United Nationalist Alliance senatorial candidate JV Ejercito, to an offshore account in the British Virgin Islands. “It’s part of an operation to discredit UNA candidates,” he said.
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism said in its report, “Although they may not be breaking any laws per se, politicians and public officials with ties to secret offshore corporations are regarded rather dimly by advocates of good governance” because these can be used to hide wealth and financial transactions.
“We do not accept suspicions. There’s nothing illegal bakit ngayon lang lumabas (why did that report surface only now)? Kasi malapit na eleksyon at si JV ay among top-ranking candidates (It’s because the elections are near and JV is among the top-ranking candidates for senator. It’s a smear campaign against UNA),” Estrada said.
Nepomuceno invited the public to this Music Museum show, “Epal: The Musical,” on April 12 and 13. And as a gift to Estrada, who will turn 76 on April 19, Nepomuceno gave him a black T-shirt bearing the words, “An epal a day, makes dynasties stay!”