Has Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada changed for the better?

It seemed like an eternity ago that Joseph “Erap” Estrada was a whipping boy of the Philippines’ chattering classses. The late Teddy Benigno summed up the pickle — what he called “Our Crisis” — Filipino voters had gotten themselves into when they voted Erap to the presidency in 1998…

As many of us in the intelligentsia had anticipated, the Estrada presidency was not only a disaster. The nation’s locomotive that was going forward went into reverse under an administration — the mounting evidence shows that now — that disgraced the seal of the Republic, wining, dining, gambling and womanizing, looting and again looting the public till until the economy faltered, staggered and began to fall, a besotted drunk with a bottle in each hand, about to crumple and vomit into the hay.

erap_estradaAnd in the aftermath of the 2001 “Edsa Dos” circus that resulted in the illegal ouster of Erap and the ascent to power of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, I wrote

…we should pause to think about what being ‘free’ means to us. If to us it means being able to turn our elections into beauty pageants and variety shows then the Filipino people’s concept of freedom is severely flawed. Erap had demonstrated the damage that could be wrought by completely unleashing the mandate of the Filipino masses in their present state of education and breeding. One only needs to count the number of showbiz personalities seeking public office in the next elections to ascertain if any lessons have indeed been learned from the Erap era.

We were willing to overlook the fact that Erap kept concubines, loved to drink and gamble, and, plain and simple, was intellectually-challenged, although he already exhibited the effects of these traits early in his presidency. Later into his administration, many Filipinos criticised Erap because his brand of corruption was ‘harapan’ — roughly translated, ‘in your face’. What exactly does this imply? That we are willing to tolerate criminality and incompetence as long as they are undertaken discretely (with ‘delicadeza’ or ‘hiya’)?

It is in fact, no coincidence that an ideology developed and successfully implemented in the West should require qualities of its practitioners that happen to be inherent to European cultures. We chose to put our faith in a system of governance that is inherently western and therefore should strive to adopt such western qualities that make a democracy work. There is, however, no need to abandon our Asian values and completely embrace Western values. All it takes is a mere appreciation of the qualities of Western culture that were key to their successes. We’d like to emphasise again that education is key. Access to education is not the issue (we still have one of the highest literacy rates in Asia). It is our approach to education that will be the critical success factor ‘ more emphasis on analysis and debate in contrast with our style of static instruction and rote memorisation.

Indeed, though it was the fashion statement of the day to pat one another’s backs for the seeing through the second incarnation of the then favourite Filipino political pastime of the 00’s, many in the international community weren’t really that amused about seeing another Edsa “revolution” in the Philippines. An article published in The New York Times back in 2001, encapsulated this outsiders’ perspective…

The man they overthrew, Joseph Estrada, was a democratically elected president half way through his six-year term. The popular uprising took place when it became clear that due process — his impeachment trial in the Senate — would not produce the result many people hoped for: his removal by constitutional means. The turning point came when the armed forces chief informed Mr. Estrada that the military was “withdrawing its support.”

The legal rationale for his removal was a last-minute Supreme Court ruling that “the welfare of the people is the supreme law,” in effect stripping Mr. Estrada of any legitimacy.

Filipinos were thrilled at the peaceful ouster of a president who had become an embarrassment — a lazy, hard-drinking womanizer who had allowed the economy to collapse and had, according to testimony in the Senate, engaged in systematic corruption.

But if they expected cheers once again from around the world, they were instead hurt and infuriated when People Power II was met with doubt and criticism, described by foreign commentators as “a defeat for due process,” as “mob rule,” as “a de facto coup.”

It was seen as an elitist backlash against a president who had overwhelmingly been elected by the poor. This time, it appears, “people power” was used not to restore democracy but, momentarily, to supplant it. Filipinos seemed to prefer democracy by fiesta, still shying from the hard work of building institutions and reforming their corrupt political system.

Lucky for us, the idiotic romanticism spun by the ABS-CBN media empire that addicted an entire generation of Filipinos to poetic street “revolution” rhetoric for more than two decades after the original 1986 “people power” “revolution” has since staled. Today, one would be hard-pressed to find any of the same sort of moronic inclination to “hit the streets” that pervaded much of the national “debate” in the 00s. But if there is a more important thing to be learned about Filipinos in the years since 2001 it is this: it is quite clear that their choice of Erap as their president back in 1998 was not accidental. Indeed, Erap came close to winning the presidency once again in 2010, coming in a close second to current President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III. Then he made a bid for the mayorship of the Philippine capital in 2013 and got it.

So now that Erap is back as Mayor of Manila, the question in everyone’s mind is this:

Has Erap changed for the better?

If the first of the things he’s done over the first few weeks of his term in office is to be used as a basis to make an assessment, things look promising. Erap’s recent and decisive order to ban provincial buses from Manila’s streets delivered results and was widely-lauded by the public even as the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) reportedly “encouraged bus owners to bring to court their protest” against the controversial ordinance. Indeed, many have speculated that part of the impact of the campaign versus provincial buses in the city could be on the pockets of LTFRB officials on the “payroll” of these bus operators, which could explain the source of the LTFRB’s chagrin.

Of course, it is obviously too early to tell how strong an indicator this recent exhibition of decisiveness is of Erap’s resolve to redeem himself now that he’s been given a renewed shot at political power.

Only time will tell. As always…

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

[Photo courtesy Philippines Today.]

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64 Comments on “Has Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada changed for the better?”

  1. Sorry, but I’m personally not all that impressed by his move to ban the buses. Oh sure, the buses are a huge problem, but it was a very shallow, knee-jerk kind of decision taken without any thought to building up a real alternative to it. Translation: Manila’s still got a shitty public transport system, all he accomplished was to contract it. Slightly. I give it four months, it’ll be back to what it was — sustained effort is not part of that man’s DNA (nor many other people’s here).

    1. i hope and will do my part as a citizen to not let that happen.

      you gotta give it to Erap. he set the bar of standards for all mayors. especially when we speak of political will and words through action.
      he deliver what he initially promised.
      i just hope people like you would start giving him the support he needs to build up the momentum.

      like PNoy said: “ano naba naambag mo sa bayan?”

      1. Why would I “give him the support he needs,” when I’ve just said he made an ill-considered, pogi point decision that was not part of any larger plan? Since when is “benefit of the doubt” a sane way of assessing leadership capabilities? Besides, no matter what anyone says about him, he’s still a convicted plunderer whose only significant contribution in an office at the national level was passing a law in appreciation of the carabao. If he makes good moves, fine. If not, no surprise.

    2. The bus ban really does little more than publicity. It’s Erap’s way of making a statement; a declaration that he’s the man in charge and that everything in Manila now has to pass through him. At the expense of neighboring cities in Metro Manila.

      The buses are part of the traffic problem. The greater part of it are the thousands of jeepneys that far outnumber the buses running roughshod on Manila’s streets. If he were serious about a solution to the traffic problem, Erap’s policies should have included a system to regulate them.

    3. How dare you say that this move is shallow? You must remember that this is only the start and supported by the people of Manila.

      1. Shallow-minded people like you would say that. TBH, I wouldn’t even like it, especially for people to go to work.

      2. The ban excludes the jeepneys which arguably contribute more to congestion than the buses. They are responsible for most of the traffic on major thoroughfares and secondary roads. If the jeepneys aren’t regulated, it shows Erap is only interested in grabbing quick headlines, the kind that impress shallow, vapid imbeciles like “bida kapamilya.”

      3. ooh, looks like mr. malacanang troll is getting pissed off. Wonder what he’s gonna do next? CAPSLOCK US TO DEATH hmm???

        No matter what you post here, you are already a laughing stock MR. Kontrabida TANGAMILYA.

  2. Mayor Erap could have implemented some traffic discipline and keep all trucks and buses in the 2nd lane or have the supply heavy trucks operate real late at night, they run supplies and don’t need to be on the road during the daytime. I don’t see any traffic enforcement at all, this could be a real revenue booster and a legal way to get funds from those that should pay.

      1. Actually, I am in really bad shape financially. I pay money to my ex-wife as part of our divorce settlement. And now I’m completely broke. Pwede bang humingi ako sa iyo ng pera na binayad sa iyo ng malakanyakanyang mula sa pag-post mo ng mga palpak na propaganda dito vincensus ignoramus? Libu-libo naman ang binibigay sa iyo e.

      2. I humbly suggest that you should say your nonsense to BAYANI FERNANDO and it will prove that you’re just Erap’s cocksucker. asskisser 😛

        Deal with it.

      3. Does it make more sense than just quick fixes, why not discipline it’s lacking here seriously, very few people can stop for two seconds without merging their cars, cycles it’s a quagmire of crazy, why would I want to talk with any emotional wreck face to face, common sense and long-term goals are in short supply along with brain power, those that buy these short-term bus solutions never seem to think outside the box but deal with it by making all suffer, it’s the lack of discipline that needs to be addressed, spank these bus drivers with hefty fines, trouble is you can’t find any police because there are situated at check points and office space, LOL they don’t do tickets or take care of the reckless drivers but they have the potential to boost the country’s revenue by writing tickets. So basically Erap could have helped fund Manila by just getting his officers out in the streets and hwy’s enforcing new standards of conduct, something that has never been seen here, that would have been impressive.

    1. The delivery trucks and container vans DO contribute to the traffic congestion. But this is largely limited to the port area and its environs. The solution to that is a hub for cargo trains along with an extension to the PNR infrastructure. That should reduce the volume of trucks and alleviate the traffic from the port.

      1. That’s the kind of thinking we need, solutions to parking lot hwy traffic. What about buying out and moving some people or tiny business that impede’s traffic or blocks new hwy’s and roads, another need to happen thing.

        1. Technically, the national government is empowered to purchase the land owned by private individuals and/or organizations for things such as public infrastructure. Say, for example, if the land, along with whatever structure is currently occupying the land, impedes the building of a highway.

          Unfortunately, in the Philippines, there are a number of impositions that the government has placed on itself that prevent this from happening painlessly.

          The laws regarding property and the treatment of illegal occupants are huge hurdles in their own right. In a more sensible society, the rule of law would prevail and squatters, who are, by law, committing an illegal act, would be removed. Here we have to coddle them first out of “humanitarian” reasons. As a result, a lot of squatters have built their homes abutting railway lines. The problem has become severe enough that trains slow down when passing through densely populated squatter areas. And because they cannot be relocated quick enough, development of the rail system has to be pushed back.

          Then there are those “powerful forces” that everyone is talking about these days. Working behind the scenes, they impede government projects they are not in favor of or because they haven’t gotten a piece of it yet. You are familiar of course with the Marcos crony who has been successful at preventing the extension of our road systems.

          What it ultimately comes down to is a lack of political will from our leadership. There are a lot of local experts who have very comprehensive and practical plans for solving the problems confronting Metro Manila — from roads to traffic to power generation to environmental preservation. But as long as Filipino leaders are limited to the shallow thinking of an Erap Estrada, it is doubtful whether a sustained solution will ever see the light of day.

        2. “You are familiar of course with the Marcos crony who has been successful at preventing the extension of our road system” I’ve heard this before and tried to do a search on this I can’t find out who it is? I find this completely insane…nows the time to get that fixed, how can someone get away this and continue to ruin progress and I guess enrich themselves, shouldn’t this be a campaign issue, making light of this person and area in question.

        3. Let’s put this in perspective. Highways and toll roads in Luzon used to be the sole responsibility of the Philippine National Construction Corporation a government owned and controlled corporation. It was originally established in 1966 as the Construction Development Corporation of the Philippines by alleged Marcos crony Rudy Cuenca. It was granted a fifty-year franchise to commission and perform construction work throughout the Philippines.

          The CDCP, as a monopoly, ran the toll expressways. At really, really, really cheap rates. As might be expected from an enterprise that charged below market rates, the company went belly up. They incurred a heavy debt burden, financing the road infrastructure while government, among other things, refused to allow it to charge appropriate toll to recover interest and expenses, let alone their original capital investment.

          In 1977, Presidential Decree No. 1113 was issued, granting the CDCP a thirty-year franchise to operate and maintain the various limited-access toll highways in the Philippines. Around 1981, the Marcos government provided the dying company with an additional infusion of capital. In 1983, the CDCP changed it’s name to PNCC. In December of that year, Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1894. This modified the PNCC franchise to include Circumferential Road 6 (C6), NLEx and SLEx. If you wanted to build a road in Luzon, you’d have to be in bed with the PNCC. Today, the Philippine government and the GSIS control up to 80 percent of the PNCC; it is supervised directly by the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry.

          Here’s the kicker. Five presidents have been elected since Marcos including the current one. Not one sought to repeal either 1113 or 1894 that granted the PNCC franchise. This is the same PNCC whose officers and directors have to be vetted by Malacñang. The same PNCC that the president complains is the hold up for his promised metro expressways.

          Now, who is the victim here? And who is the real villain?

        4. Only wish more people were aware of how things became to be.. politics and political dynasties it looks like. You’re right unsure why the president made such a statement that his hands are tied do to a previous crony he should have just said his hands are tied, lol.

        5. If the president were actually serious about his so-called “daang matuwid,” he would have done everything to remove any impediments to his political agenda and and economic development plans from the very beginning. The fact that he did not shows he is more concerned with “business as usual” than actual change. By continuing the practices and procedures of previous administrations, he abetted corruption instead of stamping it out as he promised.

  3. I really like Erap as mayor, he will improve Manila like what he did in San Juan. Mas magaling pa kay Lim.

      1. I live in San Juan. Yes we do have our squatters (what place in the Philippines doesn’t?), but I can confidently state they’re far better off than the squatters in any other town/city in the Metro. But there is always room for improvement. I for one am advocating the building of HDB housing blocks for them, for instance.

        And last I heard, there is work being done to clear the remaining ones out. I know a slum area not that far from where I am that has been cleared a few months ago and no one’s returned yet. But San Juan can’t do all the work alone in making sure they stay out – the other cities, provinces and the national government all have to do their part by ensuring that these relocated slumdogs have the facilities and jobs they need in their relocation areas so they don’t have to return again. Just my two cents on the topic.

        1. *or at least most towns and cities. The only other place where they probably fare as well or better in the Metro will be Marikina.

    1. I suppose you enjoy drinking getting drunk and falling down too! While the family sits at home eating grass your out in town with your heathinest lifestyle, what an inspiration you must be to many.

  4. Erap is a crook, intellectually challenged and has no morals.
    His hedonistic tendencies and excesses may have been curbed with age but his nature and lack of grey matter remain the same.
    Once an idiot, always an idiot.
    Once a crook, always a crook.
    The sooner these dinosaurs croak it and become extinct the better.

      1. It’s simple really you dummkopf. Utak showbiz at telebasura ang mga bumoto sa payasong iyan. Inuuna palagi ang puso at hindi ang utak. Sige kumontra ka pa dahil pinapatunayan mo lang ang sinasabi ko.

      2. You are obviously too ignorant and naive about philippine politics, as evidenced by even needing to ask such a question.
        Go to school before you make such fatuous and foolish comments.

        1. I already know that Ninoy, Cory and Noynoy are our modern heroes so I need not go back to school.

        2. you exhibit the average i.q of 86.
          wallow in your ignorance.
          no decent university that is clear.

        3. Is the 86 IQ for “bida kapamilya” alone or does that include the rest of the Malacañang sycophants?

        4. “I already know that Ninoy, Cory and Noynoy are our modern heroes so I need not go back to school.”

          Now I know. You are actually BRAINWASHED.

          You and your fellow Yellow Sheeple should go back to school. My advice.

          Of course you would not reply because what I’ve said is actually TRUE. 😀

        5. Guys! his name is bida kapamilya for cryin’ out loud…

          “Filipino masses in their present state of education and breeding. One only needs to count the number of showbiz personalities seeking public office in the next elections to ascertain if any lessons have indeed been learned from the Erap era.”

          Either this guy is a troll or an honest to goodness member of those idiots who can’t seem to distinguish movie acting from real life.

          So why bother arguing with such a retard when it’s like arguing with a monkey while he’s throwing bananas at you?

        6. @Johnny Saint

          Is the 86 IQ for “bida kapamilya” alone or does that include the rest of the Malacañang sycophants?

          Are you referring to the sum of their IQ?

  5. You fool, Erap was a mayor, chairman, senator, vice president and president before so he has already experience in the government unlike the new personalities you are reflecting to Erap. Huwag mo siya smallin. He was voted.

    1. And also a crook that was taken down by your fellow yellow hordes especially cory you dummkopf. Btw it’s so ironic that you demonize gma because of her crimes kuno and yet here you are praising erap like a god who also has a crime in the past. Oh don’t me that gma is far more evil than erap. Did you say that because you said so or is it that “you said so” is what told you from your emo self and your ass?

      1. Eh bakit? Marami naniniwala na walang kasalanan si Erap at marami rin ang napatawad na siya. Yon ang dahilan kung bakit siya nagwagi bilang mayor ng Maynila. Si Gloria, bahala na si Bossing sa kanya.

        1. Meron naman talagang kaso si Erap, but he was acquitted by none other than Arroyo.

          TBH, let the law decide on Gloria’s case. Too bad for you because most of the cases against her are based on ALLEGATIONS and HEARSAY. So the ‘bahala na si Bossing’ stance is very weak because you’re also passing judgment against one person. :3

          Wow, you’re so blind. Am I right? 😀

        2. Ang sarap talaga maging TANGA at UTO UTO no? BOBO Tangamilya

          Keep posting your stupid propaganda and we will continue tearing you apart.

        3. The troll might be using multiple personas but he is still no match for GRP. He is still a stupid sack of shit no matter what he does.
          His propaganda still can’t hide the truth about the ineffectiveness of his president nor would it even convince us.

        4. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if “bidakapamilya” is a troll who’s sarcastically portraying the Yellow Nazis this site so hates… hehehehe! 😛

        5. And btw, I remember what Dick Gordon said about GMA back in the 2010 Elections. It went along the lines of something like this: “GMA had a great work ethic, but the problem was that the circumstances of her rise to power was something that forced her to perform some forms of transactional politics to ensure her government some degree of stability”. Now that I think about it, he’s quite right about her.

    2. He was voted because he was POPULAR. But Noynoy was much worse.

      Sorry, but only the real fools are people like you who worship these kinds of politicians as demigods.

      Of course you won’t reply because what I said is actually TRUE. 😀

        1. If Noynoy was really effective. There will be no need for Tricky Ricky to hire and trains fools like you bida kapamilya? When is your shift over?

        2. Lies. Erap became an actor before he entered politics. People like Erap are one of the reasons why there is rampant corruption in the government. Fact is that the people treated the government as a spectator sport. Gullible fools like you love to put affluent familial last names and former showbiz people to politics, then when sh*t breaks out, they react as if they weren’t aware of the repercussions.

          Your point? Oh wait, you can’t because what I’ve said is actually TRUE. Stop trolling and take somewhere else. I hope you got your paycheck from Mr. Carandang. 😀

        3. Ineffective leaders rely on fools like you, Bida Kapamilya, to spread their ineffective propaganda.
          You don’t seem to realize that you’re not giving your boss a good image if you keep trying to shove your ineffective propaganda down our throats.

          No amount of propaganda can save your president from his inevitable fall.

  6. Teddy Randazzo sang “One more chance! One more chance! Will you give me one more chance.” Looks like Alkalde Estrada is proving himself to be the best Manila mayor ever had. Great start mayor and hopefully impound all illegal vehicles and destroy them to scrap yards.

  7. I say you know what makes a man in the Philippines. The ability to put his gravatar on a website like getreal. I am a foreigner and I do it. Maybe I am an idiot but I am not afraid of having a responsible dialogue on important topics such as this site raises. C’mon and lets see how handsome, beautiful and ugly you all are. Put your faces where your mouth is LOL

    1. it is not a wise idea to ever put your Identity on the internet. WHY? WHAT FOR? Identity theft and lack of privacy are two great reasons NOT TO do it.
      In the west(IDK about the east) one of the MAJOR RULES IN LIFE is: NEVER VOLUNTEER INFORMATION. another is , mind your own business and finally, NEVER tell anyone your personal business. what goes on at home STAYS at home.
      if YOU want to tell people whatever it is YOU want to tell them….YO, be my guest! I’ll keep my ID/pix to myself. BTW, I am every bit the MAN any guy on this planet is. If keeping my ID to myself is what I choose to do, it is every MAN’s right.

      One other thing, NEVER consent to a warrantless search!

    2. I don’t know how, I can’t figure out how to change the picture, looked for my profile but? Maybe your using Facebook or another social media spot, this website doesn’t seem to support adding photo’s, I could be wrong.

  8. Two words: Fuck no.

    Sure, he got the bills, but to bribe his police officers as well as getting his votes. You know what? He’s a total trash Pinoy. Keep in mind that I’m a Philippine native (Full Filipino), but I’m not into this Pinoy Pride. What they say is a supremacist thing. Pinoys always hit the fan because that’s the truth.

  9. Being from his beloved hometown San Juan, I’d have to give him kudos as a local official. San Juan did tremendously well under him back in the 1970s and 1980s – and have continued to do so under his sons and now his “first mistress”, and we’re still benefitting from their governance till this day, as evidenced by the city’s economy and the fact we have the lowest poverty rate in the nation. 🙂

    It’s just too bad he was never able to translate that success to the national level. 🙁 But good luck citizens of Manila, and Erap himself in discharging his duties as mayor of that city (even though a part of me wishes he’d be mayor of San Juan again).

    1. PS: I remember a Time Magazine article back in 2001 said it best when it came to Erap: “He had the style suited for a smalltown mayor, but certainly not one suitable for national-level politics” or something along those lines.

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