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Manila mayoral race

The Philippine stock market tumbled; Globe, BPI and retail giant SM suffered as stocks slumped last Wednesday. The Light Rail Transit management is seeking a P5 to P7 fare increase. It would be outrageous if it were the Metro Rail Transit asking for the fare hike given its daily breakdown.

The opposition, despite its waning influence and dwindling numbers, is seeking the impeachment of the eight Supreme Court associate justices who voted to oust chief magistrate Maria Lourdes Sereno via quo warranto proceedings. Akbayan Party-list Rep. Tom Villarin and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano. Senators Panfilo Lacson and former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III expressed the view that only the Senate can remove an impeachable official. They claimed that Solicitor General Jose Calida who filed the quo warranto case and the eight justices hijacked from the Senate its sole right to try Sereno.

A constitutional crisis looms if things get out of hand.

But as a native Manilan, what catches my attention is the mayoral race in the country’s capital next year. The candidates, according to news reports, are incumbent Mayor Joseph Estrada who’s seeking a third term, former actor and former mayor Isko Moreno and former mayor Fred Lim. 

God help Manila if Erap, who’s 80 years old, or Lim in his early 90s gets elected. I have nothing against old people as I’m a senior citizen myself. But to run for mayor on the delusion they want to “restore Manila to its former glory” might be too much work to do on a decaying city.

What about Isko Moreno (real name Francisco Domagoso) who’s in his 50s? Moreno /Domagoso is a perennial vice mayor to Lim and then to Erap. He ran for senator in 2016 but lost.

Against this aging field and a young has-been, the name of Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza also came up. Atienza and Estrada are friends. Recall that it was Lito who stayed with Erap in his very last moment at Malacañang when he was ousted as president by People Power II. Lito even escorted Erap on a barge across the Pasig River in 2001.

But now Atienza poses the biggest challenge to Erap’s bid to match Lito’s record as the only three-term mayor of Manila. Mayors Arsenio Lacson, Tony Villegas, Ramon Bagatsing and Mel Lopez who have passed away were not able to do it.

Atienza can still run for a third term as Buhay Party-list congressman, but there are many who are pushing him to run as mayor of Manila. Lito’s supporters believe only he can indeed return Manila to its former luster as the nation’s capital. Atienza has the administrative experience. He was the former manager of the National Housing Authority in the time of the late President Cory Aquino, and the secretary of Environment and Natural Resources under former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Some of Manila’s problems include pollution and the lack of urban planning. Atienza at one time studied architecture before he got involved in politics. He laments the various reclamation projects. Mayor Estrada is undertaking in Manila Bay to give way to more condominium towers and casinos in an already crowded area. During his time as Manila mayor, Atienza made famous the Malate area along Julio Nakpil, Maria Orosa streets and Remedios Circle as restaurant row. As a pro-life advocate, the very name of his Party-list Buhay, Atienza and his wife run a halfway house for abandoned babies in the San Andres area in Manila. Because of this charitable mission, Atienza should get the support of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and posssibly Mike Velarde’s El Shaddai congregation.

As Manila mayor, Atienza increased the city’s tax collection from P2.7 billion to P8 billion annually in the nine years of his three terms starting in 1998. This he did by keeping the tax collection windows at city hall open even during lunch break by having employees take their meals at different hours. The reason for this is that taxpayers who work can only go to city hall during their own lunch break. Service uninterrupted, the “taxpayer is king” proved more money in the city coffers for infrastructure and sanitation projects. One of Atienza’s notable projects is the Quiapo underpass. But alas, the underpass after Atienza’s watch has become a place for vendors in the daytime and for criminals to ply their trade at night.

Topics: Light Rail Transit , Maria Lourdes Sereno , Gary Alejano , Panfilo Lacson , Aquilino Pimentel III , Jose Calida , Joseph Estrada , Lito Atienza
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