Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Estrada skips debate for meeting with Mindanao execs

Deposed president Joseph Estrada wanted to attend the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s presidential forum on Monday but had to meet a delegation of more than 100 political leaders from Mindanao in the morning.
Asked whether he was holding a grudge that prevented him from attending the event, Estrada said: “Wala. Gusto ko ngang mapalapit sa Inquirer, e [There’s none. In fact, I really want to be closer to the Inquirer].” (The Inquirer was among the dailies that hit hard on the Estrada administration’s corruption in year 2000. Estrada was ousted via a military-backed civilian uprising after his impeachment proceedings collapsed when his allies blocked a documentary evidence in January 2001.)
Estrada said the political leaders came from Lanao Del Sur and Cotabato.
“If I didn’t meet them, they’d stay for one more day and I’d have to spend for their hotel and food. That would have been expensive,” Estrada said with a laugh.
Moreover, Estrada said he had attended several presidential forums and wanted to concentrate on picking up his performance in the election surveys by meeting the electorate in his campaign sorties.
“I have to catch up,” Estrada said.
Estrada said that after his party’s kick-off campaign on Tuesday in Plaza Miranda, he and runningmate Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay would motor to northern Luzon for the first part of the campaign.

Estrada poser to businessmen: Are we better off today?

After being absent in some presidential fora, former President Joseph Estrada has rejoined the fray, attending the one sponsored by a group of businessmen Tuesday and asking them this question: "Are we better off today than in year 2000 when I was your President?"
Estrada's term was cut short in 2001 by a people revolt because of corruption allegations.
But speaking before the presidential forum organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Estrada reiterated that his ouster from office was a mistake as shown by the late president Corazon Aquino's own admission when she apologized to him in public.
"..She [Aquino] apologized in public when she said that Edsa 2 was a big mistake. Patawarin mo na lang ako lahat naman tayo nagkakamali. So marami sa inyo nagkamali, ayaw nyo lang umamin [Please forgive me. All of us make mistakes. So there are a lot of you who made mistakes, you just don’t want to admit them]," Estrada said drawing laughter from the audience.
"So before you ask me more questions, I'd like to ask the first question. Are we better off today than in year 2000 when I was your President?" he asked.
Estrada did not show up at Monday's presidential forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Daily Inquirer's first presidential forum last February 8.
In his opening statement, the former leader described the PCCI as the only business organization that "never" imposed influence in government.
"This organization never imposes influence on government unlike other business organizations," he said.
In his speech also, Estrada reminded the audience that he was more of a doer than a talker.
"I started my career in the movies as an action star. That's why I prefer more to act and act rather than talk and talk," he said.
Besides, Estrada believed that he had done what his contenders have been promising to do now for the country.
"Others are still promising what I have done already in my experience of two and a half years before I was illegally ousted," he pointed out.
Before Estrada, former defense secretary Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro, Senators Manny Villar and Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III also gave their respective speeches.
Senator Richard Gordon and Brother Eddie Villanueva also presented their platforms of government if ever elected president next year.