Will former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim ever patch things up?
It looks like the bitter rivals for the highest executive position in the Philippine capital will never be friends again, based on how their debate went down in a TV show.
Speaking in front of a small audience chanting Estrada’s and Lim’s names, the former friends traded insults while Umagang Harapan was airing on ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda.
Estrada said Lim should not be reelected as mayor because Manila has been lagging behind based on the study conducted by late Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo.
“The findings of DILG show that among the 38 highly-urbanized cities in the country, Maynila is number 36. We are lagging behind,” Estrada replied when asked about why voters should not reelect Lim.
For which Lim expressed fear that his programs like free education in colleges and 485 day care centers as well as free hospitalization and housing might not be continued should Estrada win.
The former president then belied Lim’s claims, revealing that Lim mayor vetoed a council proposal to appropriate P240 million, which hopes to address the insufficiency and dilapidated condition of equipments in Manila public hospitals.
Citing a report from Commission on Audit, Estrada said Lim mismanaged the finances in Manila, and that Lim’s administration has incurred a P872-million deficit due to power expenses and P3.5-million to water expenses.
“Our former President Estrada is telling a lie… Now, I vetoed it is because the executive wants to meddle with the legislative function (of appropriating P240 million for hospital equipments),” Lim said.
“I vetoed it because (the city council) wants to encroach on the prerogative of the executive. They have legislative function so they should not meddle with the administration of Manila. They should just make ordnances,” he added.
Lim noted his administration only inherited the debts of Manila City government when he assumed office in July 2007.
“When I assumed post in July 1st 2007, that was carried over so which should I pay for first? The current expenditures and we focused on the establishment of free hospitals,” he noted.
“How many free hospitals did we build? Even those from San Juan and Mandaluyong are going there because it’s free,” he added.
Lim also accused Estrada of providing wrong information, correcting that Manila City government has been able to reduce power dues to Manila Electric Company (Meralco) to P212 million as of last week.
The debate abruptly went personal when host Anthony Taberna asked what broke the friendship that the officials once shared.
Estrada said pity was the reason why he appointed Lim to lead the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) after he placed fourth in the 1998 presidential race.
But he expressed disgust when he recalled how Lim lied to betray him and then showed support for the second EDSA People Power Revolution that kicked Estrada out of the presidency.
The former president added he forgave Lim after the former police official visited him during his incarceration in his Tanay resthouse.
“He asked for permission to go out to organize the police then he went straight to EDSA Dos and he left me. He left me,” Estrada said.
“That’s one (of the reasons why we stopped getting along) but I already forgave him for that,” Estrada said.
But Lim clarified he asked what police officials wanted to do after former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis Singson revealed Estrada mishandled government funds.
“But they said he took advantage of government money. If you are my friend, Anthony, I found out you are a rapist, are we still friends? I will get away from you,” Lim said.
“I distanced myself from him because he took advantage of government funds. That’s why he got convicted. He’s the only president who got convicted of plunder, not jaywalking,” he added.
“Plunder means ill-gotten wealth. Up to now, he still needs to pay P500 million. He has only paid P290 million. He still has to pay P200 million that’s why he has to pay up!” Lim demanded.
But the former president said Lim was the one who visited him during his incarceration in Tanay, crying and begging for his forgiveness before asking to be included in the opposition senatorial slate in 2004.
Lim denied weeping in front of Estrada and begging his forgiveness. He said he would never cry in front of Estrada, whom he described as a liar and a criminal.
“That’s another lie. The only reason I cry is when I remember my grandmother but I will never cry to a criminal, to a thief. I catch them, I investigate them!” Lim said.
“That’s the same lie he has been telling about (incumbent Senator Francis) Chiz Escudero. He said Chiz cried to him and earlier they interviewed him, he said it’s a lie. So why would I cry to him?” he insisted.
After calling each other “liars” on national TV, Estrada then challenged Mayor Lim to produce his birth certificate to prove that he is also born in Tondo.
Lim then challenged Estrada to drop his mayoral bid if he is able to show his birth certificate.
“You’re a liar!” Lim said.
The former president then teased that the Manila mayor will cry again because he cannot show his birth certificate.
“See, he’s lying in front of you. He said I was crying when I am not. I’m really infuriated by his lies!” Lim exclaimed.
Video from ABSCBNNews: