Erap vows to clean up city hall

Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) - July 1, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Mayor-elect Joseph Estrada vowed yesterday to wipe out corruption in the city government and the Manila Police District.

Estrada, who was sworn into office by former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile at noon yesterday, said the fight against corruption will be the centerpiece of his administration.

“My message to the corrupt city hall officials and kotong (mulcting) cops and hoodlums in uniform is that your days are numbered here in Manila. Your days are over here in this city. Your happy days are now over in Manila,” he said.

Estrada said he will give city hall officials, employees and police officers time to change.

“I ask you to reform because we will go after you. My advice to you is to change now. We will apply the full force of the law so that we may become a model city insofar as peace and order is concerned,” Estrada said.

Estrada called on the residents of Manila, including those who did not vote for him in the May 13 polls, to cooperate with him in his effort to bring back the old glory of Manila as the country’s capital city.

 â€œI am ready to beg and kneel just to redeem the old glory of Manila,” he said.

Estrada also plans to create a panel to investigate why Manila’s coffers are empty. He cited a Commission on Audit report showing that the city government’s budget deficit is P3.5 billion.

He also noted that Manila’s unpaid power bills have reached P600 million, the teachers’ allowances were reduced and the city government has not released the police officers’ allowances for the past two years.

‘Men of conviction’

The former President started his inaugural address by cracking a joke that he is the first ex-convict to become mayor of Manila. He was ousted and convicted of plunder, but was pardoned by his successor, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

He also compared himself to the late former senator Benigno Aquino Jr., who was convicted during martial law, telling the crowd that they are now known as “men of conviction.”

In a press conference shortly after taking his oath of office, Estrada announced that he chose Chief Superintendent Francisco Genabe as the new director of the Manila Police District (MPD).

Aside from Genabe, Estrada appointed Senior Superintendent Gilbert Cruz, former San Juan City police chief, as the MPD’s deputy police director.

He also named lawyer Edward Serapio as secretary to the mayor, former Nueva Ecija congressman Nicanor Garcia as city administrator, Liberty Toledo as treasurer and lawyer Jay Flaminiano as city legal officer.

100 days

Genabe, the director of the Philippine National Police Headquarters Support Service, also once served as Caraga deputy regional director for administration and as the police chief of Cagayan de Oro and Camiguin.

Genabe will formally assume office today during the regular flag-raising ceremony at the MPD headquarters.

Estrada gave Genabe 100 days within which to solve the rising crime in the city and the alleged involvement of many Manila police officers in extortion rackets targeting vendors and public utility vehicle drivers, kidnappings and car thefts.

He said his administration’s priority is to have peace and order in the city to entice investors. “No city, municipality or country will have economic progress without peace and order. Travel advisories from foreign countries discouraging their citizens from going to the Philippines are scaring away investors,” Estrada said.

Genabe, who joined Estrada for the press conference, said the 100 days given him to solve crimes in Manila is “doable.”

“I am giving my policemen 15 days to change their lifestyles. If they cannot do that and they do not produce results, something bad will happen to them,” he said.

Another official considered for the MPD’s top post was Chief Superintendent Fidel Posadas, the deputy director of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Southern Luzon. Genabe and Posadas were classmates at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) Class of 1983.

Other contenders were MPD officer-in-charge Senior Superintendent Robert Po of PNPA Class 1985 and MPD deputy director for administration Senior Superintendent Ronald Estilles of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1984.

More programs

Estrada said he will also work to clean up waterways and mitigate flooding in the city.

“We will do this in line with a clear climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction mitigation program. We must learn our lessons from last year. Heavy rainfall brought by the monsoon flooded the city. Even without storms, Manila has been flooded because of continuous rainfall,” Estrada said.

Estrada said his administration will give full attention to the dredging of waterways and the relocation of informal settlers in the city to a safer place.

He also announced that he will create night markets in various parts of the city to allow poor vendors to earn.

“During the campaign (period), I realized that there are many vendors who will be affected by the cleaning operations I intend to do in Manila. But to ensure that they will have continuous livelihood, I will allow them to sell their wares in a night market that is similar to Hong Kong,” Estrada said.

He said the night markets will operate from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., but the vendors “have to remove their stalls from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. We will not get any payment from them from the first four to five months to let them take off.”

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