MANILA, Philippines – “Parang wala kayong kamatayan.”
Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim said the words during a recent speech that was addressed to his critics.
Vice Mayor Isko Moreno and several city councilors took offense with the statement, saying it was death threat against them.
Lim, however, denied that it was a threat. He said the group probably misinterpreted his speech.
“Ano ba ang threat doon? Karaniwang salita lang ‘yun eh,” he told ANC’s “Prime Time” on Wednesday.
Lim said his reputation of being a tough law enforcer may have caused a misunderstanding.
“Sa mga kriminal, sa mga mamamatay-tao, sa mga rapist, syempre we have to adopt a very strong stand. Pero ito mga elected officials ito eh, we respect them,” he said.
The mayor said the rift between him and the vice mayor began when he ordered the removal of several of Moreno's employees to comply with an order from the Commission on Audit (COA).
The memorandum issued by the city auditor stated that the city government is 45% above the employee ceiling.
“Tinanong ko sa treasurer namin, because we were given 3 days, sabi niya wala tayong magagawa kung hindi magtanggal ng tao,” Lim said.
Lim said he has already trimmed down his staff to comply with the COA order but Moreno failed to follow the directive.
Lim also said several employees were not paid their salaries because they failed to submit personal data sheets.
“Kasi ayaw nila ibigay ‘yung mga pangalan. Kaya na-diskubre namin na doon pala sila nagsu-suweldo. Kaya sabi ko noong March 15, lahat kayo pipila sa treasurer’s office. I-presenta ninyo ang ID ninyo, pumirma kayo sa payroll, at babayaran kayo. Dumating ang March 15 at walang sumipot,” he said.
Battle for Manila
Lim is poised to face off with former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, who earlier expressed interest in running for the mayoral post of Manila.
Lim said he will run in the 2013 elections if he feels that he still has the support of his constituents.
“Kung gusto pa ko ng tao, tatakbo pa ako sa 2013. Pero kung maramdaman ko na ayaw na sa akin, mag-aalsa balutan na ako. Why will I insist in running kung ayaw na sa akin ng tao?” he said.
He has yet to pick a runningmate for 2013.
Estrada, meanwhile, is eyeing Moreno as his runningmate.
Moreno recently joined Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.