Estrada vows to fight corruption
MANILA, Philippines — Once convicted of plunder, then pardoned to be set free, Joseph “Erap” Estrada, who was elected Manila mayor in May, vowed to combat corruption on Sunday and paint an honorable image of Manila after being sworn in as chief executive of the country’s capital.
“The fight against corruption will be the centerpiece of our administration,” Estrada, who was impeached as president and later convicted of plunder, said in his inaugural address at Manila City Hall’s solar-powered Session Hall.
Afterwards, in a press conference, he said peace and order would be the priority of his first 100 days in office.
Estrada, 76, who ran on a platform of urban renewal, beat reelectionist Alfredo Lim, 83, in the May elections.
“So much is expected of me,” said Estrada, who promised to address the city’s mounting debt, garbage, flooding and traffic problems. He said he would also check the proliferation of sidewalk vendors and informal settlers, the rising crime rate and poverty.
“Noong nag-iikot nga ako at nalaman ko mga problema, parang ayoko na maupo (I almost backed out when I went around and saw the problems),” Estrada said in jest.
Estrada took his oath before former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile in ceremonies graced by Vice President Jejomar Binay, completing the three pillars of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance.
Estrada’s son, acting Senate President Jinggoy Estrada, on the other hand, administered the oath of reelected Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso and the city councilors.
Estrada was asked about the oil depot in Pandacan, but it was Moreno who answered. The vice mayor said the Big 3 oil companies should leave Pandacan by January 2016, as stipulated in an ordinance.
“For the first time in history, Manila will have an ex-convict as your mayor,” Estrada quipped, while maintaining that he was innocent and prejudged.
“We were all convicted. That is why we are now all men of conviction,” Estrada said, referring to Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Anwar Ibrahim of Malaysia, Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar and Sen. Ninoy Aquino.
The former president declared that he would go “all out against hoodlums in uniforms,” and maintain peace and order so that the city can gain the trust of tourists and investors.
“Kaya ang mensahe ko sa mga corrupt na opisyal at mga kotong cops (I’m telling corrupt officials and mulcting policemen), hoodlums in uniform, your days are numbered here in Manila,” he said.
Estrada said he would ask the city council to pass an ordinance that would include the installation of security cameras as a requisite for getting a business permit. He believed it would help prevent petty crimes.
He also mentioned a proposal for a night market for sidewalk vendors.
The next priority for Estrada is to generate revenue by modernizing the assessment of business and real estate taxes and improving collection.
The city has an approved budget of P9.2 billion for 2013, but Estrada said collection for the first and second quarters amounted to only P2 billion.
Estrada said there would be transparency in the city’s daily income and expenditures.
He vowed that in three years he would lay down the foundation—the blueprint of programs—for the city’s renewal, and then he would give way to Moreno for the next term.
“Manila is the gateway to the Philippines. Manila is the face and image of the Philippines, the pearl of the orient. And we must ensure that this image is honorable and deserving of our respect, of the respect of the international community of nations,” Estrada said.
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