MANILA, Philippines - Former president Joseph Estrada was the first to draw blood in his mayoral bid against Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim in what many have dubbed the Battle of Manila.
There was no shortage in movie and television celebrities at the proclamation rally of Estrada and Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno in Manila Sunday night. Estrada is running for mayor, while Moreno is seeking re-election.
The two are former actors.
With the host of celebrities who went up on stage, even senatorial candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance joined in the dance performances.
Vice-President Jejomar Binay was also there to endorse the candidates and participate in the festivities.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada was also present as well as his half-brother, UNA candidate JV Ejercito, to endorse their father's candidacy.
Aside from declaring his bid to run as vice-mayor again, Moreno also took a swipe at his erstwhile partner at city hall. He said Estrada would soundly beat Lim who has been dubbed the "Dirty Harry" of Manila for his no-nonsense approach to crime.
"Ano ba napala natin sa nakaraang 21 years? Wala. Nganga...Bumangon sa norte si Asiong Salonga. Hindi makatiis kay Dirty Harry. Gugulpihin niya ito. Partida pa, bumunot pa siya ng baril. Puro takot takot, manduduro naman. Iyakin pa," he said.
During the proclamation rally, Estrada laid down his plans for Manila. Among these are peace and order, better business opportunities, stronger industries and more jobs.
The former president also did not let the evening pass without hitting his rival. He said Lim was too quick to call him a plunderer and an ex-convict when the mayor actually asked for his endorsement in a previous senatorial election.
Estrada was elected president in 1998 but was deposed in 2001, halfway through his six-year term.
Following a marathon trial, he was convicted in 2007 of corruption for plunder and taking kickbacks worth tens of millions of dollars while president. He was however quickly pardoned by his successor Gloria Arroyo.
Estrada consistently maintained that his ousting was a conspiracy involving the influential Catholic church and the elite who feared his populist ideas.
He ran again for the presidency in 2010, coming in second behind Benigno Aquino in a field of 10 candidates -- proving that he remains among the country's most popular politicians despite his conviction. With Agence France-Presse