MANILA, Philippines – Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim has been removed as president of former President Joseph Estrada’s party, Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).
In a telephone interview with The STAR, Estrada said Lim’s dismissal was a party decision made during a caucus.
“It was a decision of the majority of the party,” he said.
Estrada said he has taken over as PMP president because Lim was too busy to attend to his obligations to the party.
“I have no job, while he is very busy with his job as the mayor of Manila,” he said. “So what will I do? That is why I took the job.”
Estrada said Lim’s removal is part of the PMP’s overhaul in preparation for the 2010 presidential elections.
“We are strengthening the party all over the country,” he said. “We wanted to be prepared when we face the administration in 2010.”
After learning that he had been removed as PMP president, Lim tendered his resignation in a letter to Estrada yesterday.
“With due respect, consistent with your recent public pronouncement that I have resigned from the PMP, I am therefore hereby tendering my irrevocable resignation from the party retroactive from the date of your announcement,” read the letter.
“I am taking this opportunity to express my deep appreciation and gratitude for the personal concern and assistance you extended me, and to the privileges enjoyed by me while I was an active member of the PMP.
“Be assured, that I am and will always be an oppositionist. With my warmest regards and best wishes.”
Estrada said Lim is a political butterfly and one of those who abandoned him during the civilian-backed military uprising that drove him from Malacañang in 2001.
“He is like a political butterfly,” he said.
“During the People Power II, he said he will just call the Philippine National Police to look at the situation at EDSA.
“But after a few hours, I learned that he was already on stage at the EDSA Shrine.”
Estrada also assailed Lim’s violent takeover last month of the city-owned Vitas slaughterhouse in Tondo, Manila, which was owned by the family of Manila councilor Dennis Alcorez.
“(Lim’s men) bodily carried the councilor like a pig,” he said.
However, Estrada said despite what Lim did to him in 2001, he has already forgiven him.
“That is why I endorsed him when he ran for senator and for mayor of Manila,” he said.
“I think these are all temporary political differences. But in a way Lim is now the lone breakaway group of the PMP.”
Estrada said despite their differences, the opposition would still welcome Lim to its fold.
“Everybody’s welcome in the opposition, and he said that he is staying in the opposition,” he said. “But I’ve heard that he is joining (President) Gloria (Arroyo).”
In a separate interview, former Ambassador Ernesto Maceda said Lim’s removal as PMP president will not be a political setback to the opposition.
“My understanding is that he (Lim) is no longer the president, and Erap has taken over as president of the PMP,” he said.
“I don’t think it will be major political setback to the opposition.” – With Sandy Araneta