2016 Elections: The Most Contested Fights In Metro Manila

Barely a week is left before the entire country casts their ballots on May 9 for various national and local positions, from the president down to the city or municipal councilor. While the Urban Roamer does not deal much with politics, especially on a national level, this roamer feels it is appropriate on the other hand to discuss the local elections happening within the area of Metropolitan Manila.

As far as the Metro Manila local elections are concerned, some fights are virtually no-contests like in Quezon City and Pasig, actual no contests like in Parañaque, while some have hotly contested fights but not on the same interest and intensity as the cities we shall be looking at here.

MANILA: JUST LIKE 2013…ALMOST

Being the capital city of the country, elections in the city is probably one of the most watched local elections in the country. More so since one of the contenders in this year’s mayoralty elections is a former president in the person of Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada, now vying for a second term in office.

One of those challenging him is the city’s former mayor, Alfredo Lim, aiming to return to Maharnilad after being defeated by Estrada in 2013. Another challenger is another veteran in Manila politics, the representative of the city’s 5th district, Amado Bagatsing who himself is a son of Manila’s longest serving mayor, Ramon Bagatsing Sr.

From L-R: Estrada, Lim, Bagatsing (photo courtesy of the Inquirer)

At least for Estrada and Lim, this is considered Part 2 of their fight that was last fought in 2013, in which the challenger Estrada handily won against the then-incumbent Lim. Estrada ran with a vow to put the city’s finances in order as he alleged that Lim made the city bankrupt the latter’s tenure.

Recently, Estrada proclaimed that Manila is now debt free thanks to the measures he made in the last 3 years to improve the city’s finances through various public-private partnerships, controversial among them would be the management of city’s various markets and other city infrastructures like the Lacson Underpass. This has given rise to the accusation that Estrada has been selling off Manila’s assets to businesses, an accusation Estrada denies.

Whether Estrada’s actions as Manila mayor is something the Urban Roamer cannot comment on, there’s no denying that these allegations are serious and can adversely affect his chances to get a new term after all the trouble he went through like (allegedly) begging Vice Mayor Isko Moreno to seek a Senate seat instead of running for mayor which was the original agreement. Will Estrada manage to hold on to his post? Will Lim make a comeback to City Hall…again? Will Bagatsing finally make it in City Hall and make history as the first to be a son of a former mayor to hold office as mayor himself?

SAN JUAN: AN ALLIANCE GONE SOUR

If Estrada is having quite some trouble keeping his post as Manila mayor, his family that still holds power in his old turf of San Juan is having some troubles as well. This perceived threat is not from some old rival family but from a family that used to be allies of the Ejercito-Estradas.

The 2016 elections in San Juan is the most interesting in the city after decades of almost uninterrupted rule of the Ejercito-Estradas as Guia Gomez, the incumbent mayor and also one of Joseph Estrada’s “partners” is seeking to remain as city mayor against the challenge from the incumbent vice mayor Francis Zamora, whose family has been longtime allies of the Estradas.

(photo courtesy of Manila Bulletin)

The rift began last year when it was reported that the erstwhile feuding branches of the Ejercito-Estradas, the branch of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and that of Sen. JV Ejercito have resolved their differences and unite to preserve the Ejercito-Estrada hold on the city against who they call the “power hungry” Vice Mayor Francis Zamora and his dad, incumbent representative Ronaldo Zamora. The Zamoras however denied the accusation and instead accused the Ejercito-Estradas of being power hungry as they were trying to preserve their power and shutting the Zamoras out despite their years of friendship.

And as any broken friendships go, it has transformed into an ugly war of sorts as both camps accuse each other of being after only their own interests and not after that of the city. Of course, we’ve all heard that before, right? The question remains: will the old guard stay on in San Juan or will their old friend get to topple them down? Also, would the Ejercito-Estradas and the Zamoras reconcile if ever? As far as the last question is concerned, that’s something not out of the question, especially in politics.

MAKATI: CONTINUING MOMENTUM OR BRING BACK THE OLD?

If there is one city in the metropolis that has experienced so much political upheaval this past 3 years, it would be Makati. Or to be specific, it all happened in just less than a year before this elections. The issues with the overpriced Makati City Hall Building II, among other accusations, were enough for the Ombudsman to suspend Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay, the only son of the controversial former mayor and incumbent Vice President Jejomar Binay.

The suspension paved the way for the rise of one man to be the city’s new mayor in person of then vice mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña. Peña’s assumption to the post made him the first non-Binay family member to become mayor after almost 30 years of Binay rule in the city.  However, given the short timeframe he would have in office, he only got to do so much, understandably. Thus, expectedly, Peña is running for a mandate of his own this 2016, banking on him being the so-called new face of Makati politics, untainted by the allegations of corruption the Binays are facing.

From L-R: Peña and Binay (photo courtesy of CNN Philippines)

Of course, it is not unexpected that the Binays are not going to back down on this fight, especially this one as they are raring to get back to the city’s top post. This time, the one fighting it out for the Binays is Junjun’s sister, incumbent representative Abigail Binay who is now vying for the mayoralty post while her husband, Luis Campos will be vying in her place in the Lower House instead.

This fight is seen as the battle of political machineries, with Peña relying on the administration party machinery at his disposal not only as incumbent mayor but as an ally of the ruling party at the national level while Binay relying on her family’s well-entrenched local machinery cultivated for almost 30 years.  It will be interesting to see whose machinery would be superior in this fight to take hold of the metropolis’ progressive city.

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Regardless of the outcome of the elections in general, the Urban Roamer is one with the rest of the country in hoping for an honest and peaceful elections. Let us exercise our right to vote responsibly and make sure that our voices we expressed through the ballot will be heard.

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