'Erap lang Poe' in 2016?

Jose Rodel Clapano, The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada is thinking of running again for president in 2016, with Sen. Grace Poe as his running mate.

But Estrada said if given the chance, he would serve only for three and a half years – the period in his presidential term that he said was “stolen” from him in 2001.

In a telephone interview with The STAR, Estrada said after three years and a half, he would turn over the presidency to Poe, his goddaughter.

“Should the ‘Erap lang Poe’ tandem push through and win, my plan is to serve only for three and a half years as president. I just want to continue and complete my six-year term. I only served for two years and a half,” Estrada said.

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He said Poe, his goddaughter through late bosom buddy and fellow movie actor Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ), would be well versed in the duties and responsibilities of an executive by the time he relinquishes the post.

“I’m just toying with the idea. That is my plan. Serve only for three years and a half,” he added.

Poe has not yet declared her intention to run either for president or vice president, although she is closely competing with Vice President Jejomar Binay in surveys.

While he is strongly inclined to run for reelection as Manila mayor, Estrada added that he is not closing his door yet to another try at the presidency.

“The presidency is providential like what happened to Noynoy (President Aquino). Had (President) Cory (Aquino) not died, Noynoy would not become president and the SAF (Special Action Force) 44 would not have died. I would have won in 2010,” he declared.

Estrada admitted having a hard time choosing between Poe and Binay, his close friend and political ally.

“But things will be clearer once the certificates (of candidacy) are filed. I’m having difficulty. Grace is my goddaughter and the daughter of my closest friend whom I regarded as a brother and loved more than a brother,” he said.

As for Binay, Estrada said the Vice President faces a dilemma given the “demolition job being consistently made against him and his family.”

“It is not clear yet whether he will be charged, jailed and fail to run. Many things can happen in the next one or two months,” he added.

If the opposition fails to field a bet for the 2016 race, Estrada said that would leave him with no other choice but to run for president.

Binay is the declared presidential candidate of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), a former coalition of Binay’s Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan party and Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.

The UNA coalition fielded Estrada and Binay as its presidential and vice presidential candidates in 2010. Binay won over the Liberal Party’s Mar Roxas, while Estrada lost to President Aquino.