Estrada: Gratitude to FPJ is why I endorse Grace Poe
MANILA — Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada endorsed on Monday his god-daughter, Senator Grace Poe, for the 2016 presidential elections during his own proclamation rally for a reelection bid at the Liwasang Bonifacio on Mondaynight.
The former president cited his decades-long friendship with Poe’s father, Fernando Poe Jr., called FPJ by friends and fans, and her admirable traits as a public servant for his decision.
Estrada’s announcement came after months of stalling whether he would support Poe or Vice President Jejomar Binay, a candidate of the United Nationalist Alliance, his political ally and friend.
He described Senator Poe as a good, trustworthy person, just like her father, FPJ, the movie king who lost the presidential race to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004.
“Mabuti at mapapagkatiwalaang tao tulad ng kanyang ama. Ang kanyang minamahal na anak ang nag nanais na magpatuloy ng kanyang nasimulan … Ang susunod na magiging pangulo, Senator Grace Poe,” Estrada said in endorsing Poe before a crowd of 30,000 to 40,000 people. (She is a good person and she can be trusted, just like her father. Her father’s beloved daughter now aspires to continue what he has started… Our next President, Senator Grace Poe.)
Poe in return thanked his “ninong” (godfather) for the endorsement. Then, to the crowd’s delight, Poe kidded Estrada for giving her the well coveted support.
“Ninong tell me the truth, did you support me because you were afraid that daddy might haunt you?” Poe said in jest, sending the crowd and Estrada to burst into laughter.
“Thank you for choosing me. I know it’s not an easy choice. I will not disappoint you,” Poe added
Poe arrived at the venue past 6 p.m. Estrada met her and escorted her to one of the tents as they avoided media interviews.
She was called to the stage after all their senatorial and local candidates had delivered their speeches.
In introducing Poe, Estrada spoke as his camp played a compilation of their videos together when Fernando Poe Jr.was still alive.
“He never left me. He always supported my candidacy for mayor, senator, vice president, and president,” Estrada said.
He kept giving clues while the crowd kept chanting “Grace Poe, Grace Poe.” When Estrada finally said that his “special guest who is more special than him” was the child of the king and queen of Philippine movies, the crowd went wild.
After endorsing Poe, Estrada gave her a white wristband similar to what he’s wearing since he became president in 1998. Estrada continued wearing it until after he became mayor.
Joining him on stage were vice mayor and senatorial candidate Isko Moreno and Senator Bongbong Marcos, whose candidacy for the vice presidential post he also supported.
In an ambush interview after the rally, Estrada said gratitude to his best friend was his first consideration why he chose Poe. He said he made the decision two months ago but kept the decision to himself.
“She never asked for my endorsement,” he said, adding that it has been two months since he last talked to presidential candidate and Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Estrada also expressed confidence that his family would support Poe despite the earlier pronouncement by San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez — the mother of one of Estrada’s sons, Sen. JV Ejercito — that she would support Liberal Party presidential candidate Mar Roxas.
“I call the shots,” he told reporters as he stressed that he could not lead the city if he could not even unite his family.
Aside from vice mayor and senatorial candidate Isko Moreno, and vice presidential candidate and Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., on stage with Estrada were his chosen senatorial candidates – Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares, former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino, Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno and congressman Sherwin Gatchalian. They sat beside him in wooing the public. Another senatorial candidate who got Estrada’s support — former senator Miguel Zubiri — was represented at the event by his wife Audrey.
Estrada’s slate for the local race was present. The candidates were led by his vice mayoral candidate Honey Lacuna, the congressmen, and councilors.
Lacuna, during her turn to speak, asked the crowd to help her “become the first female vice mayor of the city.”
“They said behind every successful man is a woman. I hope you vote me to become that woman who will support our president-mayor Estrada,” she said. Popular actors and actresses, including Eat Bulaga hosts Jose Manalo and Ruby Rodriguez, entertained the crowd with songs and jokes.
Liwasang Bonifacio was the same venue where he formally declared his mayoral candidacy three years ago against then incumbent Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.
Estrada stood-by-side Vice President Jejomar Binay and his then vice mayoral candidate Moreno in 2013 as he made a political comeback following a loss to President Aquino in the 2010 presidential polls.
“If Mayor Erap wins again,” said Moreno Monday night, “don’t give him headaches because I saw the importance of having a mayor who has the support of his vice mayor. If you really care for [Estrada], give him an ally for a vice mayor. Make their tandem number one like what you did to us in 2013.”
In May that year, Estrada, garnering 343,993 votes, won against Lim who had 308,544 votes.
Moreno, on the other hand, got 395,156 votes against Lim’s running mate Lou Veloso’s 234,256 votes.
The two were proclaimed the winners a day after the May 13 polls.
Meanwhile, mayoralty candidate and congressman Amado Bagatsing with his running-mate, Councilor Ali Atienza, made the rounds on Sunday to kick off their campaign. In visiting Tondo, the tandem doused rumors that their partnership has been strained.
“The tandem is still standing as one,” their camp said in a statement.
Bagatsing and Atienza also discussed their agendas and platform. Should they win, the two vowed to exercise leadership and provide governance based on “real and genuine agenda,” and provide “true and sincere service for the Manileños.”
The platform also includes the “construction of transparent, clean, and organized governance in the city, programs that will eliminate corruption and traffic dilemmas, eradicating prevalent criminality and the widespread cases of drug transactions, and reducing the number of poor and ravenous families in Manila.” SFM
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