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erap estrada – the president who will finish plans for the poor

May 4, 2010 9 comments

JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA: I want to finish my plans for the poor

By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:43:00 05/04/2010

(Editor’s Note: The presidential profiles will be running in no particular order but as the stories come in from our reporters in the field.)

(Fifth of a series)

MANILA, Philippines—On a humid night in Tuguegarao City, where the earlier daytime temperature reportedly hit a sweltering 39 degrees Celsius, a crowd of around 5,000 came to see him and didn’t seem to mind the heat building up inside the Cagayan Sports Complex.

At 73 and even with a drawl, former President Joseph Estrada could still make multitudes hang on to his every word—whether it leads to a litany over what he maintained to be his “unlawful” ouster and conviction for plunder, or to one of his so-called “Eraptions.”

That night, he deftly combined both: “My beloved mother once told me, ‘what’s with you, Joseph? You didn’t finish your studies. You didn’t finish your presidency. Now, even your (jail) sentence, you didn’t finish.’”

The audience composed mostly of farmers, workers and vendors lapped it all up, their hearty laughter turning into cheers and chants of “Erap! Erap! Erap!”

But after delivering the punch line to full effect, Estrada shifted moods and made the follow-through in all earnest: “And so I promised her that time that I will finish the programs that I started for the Filipino masses.”

The scene had become a hallmark of almost every Estrada sortie since the former multi-awarded actor embarked on what could be his ultimate sequel: To regain the presidency after a disgraceful fall from power.

In between wisecracks, the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) standard-bearer would remind listeners that people didn’t have to form long lines for rations of rice during his abbreviated tenure in Malacañang, unlike during that of his predecessor Fidel V. Ramos or his successor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

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