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Local Politics in Manila Heat up Ahead of Mid-Term Polls

Lim Erap Isko Veloso
All smiles for the camera, now please gentlemen.

Manila – The brewing political rivalry of former President Joseph Estrada and incumbent Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim for Manila’s mayoralty race is expected to escalate further ahead of the May 13 mid-term polls. This was after Estrada’s vice mayoralty candidate, incumbent Manila Vice Mayor Francisco Domagoso (Isko Moreno), along with five other Manila councilors aligned with the former President, were arrested and detained briefly on Saturday on allegations of illegal gambling activity.


In a report from the Manila Police District (MPD), police authorities were trying to stop a Bingo game being held in the outskirt of Manila’s Sta. Cruz district organized by Moreno and the councilors. Moreno said he spoke to police officers at the site and explained that the Bingo game per se is not illegal.


The MPD, for its part, said the public Bingo game organized by Moreno’s group is a violation of Presidential Decree 1602 because they did not secure any permit, prompting them to bring Moreno and the five councilors to the police station.


Estrada, along with Vice President Jejomar Binay, went to the police station to support Moreno’s group. They were brought to the fiscal office for inquest proceeding and were granted liberty after almost 11 hours of detention while the investigation is ongoing. Moreno’s group is planning to sue the police officers who initiated the arrest, and tagged Lim as the person who ordered the police to make the arrest.


Lim, in separate interviews, vehemently denied the accusation, saying the MPD is not under the Office of the City Mayor. He however lauded the police officers for effecting the arrest.


The Manila Mayor also said that he is planning to bring up the matter before the Commission on Elections. This was after the Bingo cards distributed to the patrons apparently bore the names of Estrada and Moreno and other candidates’ name, which Lim said is in violation as the campaign period will not start until March 29.


The arrest on Moreno and his group came barely a day after the major candidates of the City of Manila, led by rivals Lim and Estrada, signed a peace covenant before the Commission on Elections.


Estrada said the arrest on Moreno’s group is politically motivated. Moreno used to be an ally of Lim during the 2010 national and local elections until Moreno bolted out of Lim to switch on the political party of Estrada.


Lim, on the other hand, served as Interior and Local Government Secretary of Estrada during the latter’s presidency. Lim, a former police general and head  of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), however, were among Estrada’s Cabinet secretaries who resigned and supported for his ouster amid allegations of graft and corruption.


Estrada, who was elected President in 1998 via a landslide victory, was unseated from the presidency in January 2001 following a military-backed people’s uprising.