MANILA — Three of the Philippine capital's strongest bets for the mayoralty kicked off their respective campaigns Friday, braving the city’s sweltering heat to knock on doors and shake the hands of voters.
Former mayor Alfredo Lim and former vice mayor-turned-Social Welfare Undersecretary Francisco Domagoso, popularly known as Isko Moreno, are challenging the incumbent mayor of the capital, ousted president and plunder convict Joseph "Erap" Estrada, in his bid for another term.
In the morning, Lim and Domagoso came one after the other to the Sto. Niño de Tondo Parish Church to hear mass, along with their supporters. Domagoso came with his running mate, reelectionist Vice Mayor Honey Lacuña.
Estrada and his vice mayoral running mate, former lawmaker Amado Bagatsing, meanwhile, attended a lunch gathering with supporters in Malate.
The three are no strangers to Manila’s longstanding problems of poverty, traffic, garbage, and flooding -- all of which have remained unresolved under their respective terms in office.
In the afternoon, it was only Domagoso who dug deep into issues plaguing the city and expressed ambitious plans to address illegal vending, transportation woes, and garbage, among others during what was supposed to be a debate among the three candidates at the University of the Philippines’ Manila campus.
Lim sent a representative, while Estrada failed to join the event.
“We will clean Manila!” Domagoso said, recounting his time as garbage collector when he was in his teens.
He added: "Sila naman ay napagbigyan na... Kumusta naman tayo?”
(They were already given a chance. How are we now?)
Amid sweet promises of candidates in yet another election season, homeless senior citizen Shirley Evangelista, 66, found herself begging on the dirty sidewalk of Padre Faure Street, feeling forgotten.
“Binigyan lang ako dati ng pagkain noong nakaraang eleksyon tapos nananalo siya, ang sungit na ’pag nanghihingi ka ng kailangan mo,” she said.
(I just got a meal in the past election. And when they won, they are already ill-tempered when you ask for your needs.)
Also joining the race for the city’s top post are Onofre Abad, Francis Pizarra, Ben Rivera, Cecil Salvador and Francis Villegas.
Political and social scientist Roberto Mendoza said voters should take local elections more seriously than national polls.
“Mas importante ’yung may direct connection sa mamamayan; sila ’yung mga local politicians,” he said.
(Those who have direct connection with people are more important; they are the local politicians.)