Insisting the city is in a mess, former President and Manila Mayor-elect Joseph “Erap” Estrada has assembled a powerhouse lineup of former Cabinet members to help generate revenues for the supposedly cash-strapped local government.
Estrada, who defeated incumbent Mayor Alfredo Lim in the last election, sat down with members of his old economic team over lunch at Mandarin Hotel in Makati City on Wednesday.
With him were his former Finance Secretary Jose Pardo, former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, former Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Felipe Medalla and former National Treasurer Leonor Briones.
“I decided to consult my old team to help me out in Manila,” he told the INQUIRER. “They are people of competence and unquestionable integrity.”
Estrada clarified that he was not about to appoint any of them to a post, saying they would just provide suggestions on how Manila could generate more revenues during his three-year term.
“So much is expected of me but it’s difficult to start a project without funds,” he said. “So I need their ideas too.”
Throughout the campaign, Estrada had insisted that Manila was in financial dire straits with a deficit of more than P3 billion, an allegation denied by Lim’s camp.
Among the incoming mayor’s plans to raise funds was to reassess pieces of real property and speed up the issuance of business permits.
“I want permits to be released within 72 hours so that investors would feel more welcome in Manila,” he said.
Estrada added that he would also roll out a comprehensive urban renewal plan for Manila, a project that would address problems in sanitation, environment and crime.
He said he was still forming his “transition team” that would coordinate with the outgoing administration. Asked if he would bring his trusted aides in San Juan to Manila, he replied: “Very few.”