FORMER President Joseph Estrada, the incoming mayor of Manila, said on Saturday the description of the city in the newest book by bestselling author Dan Brown as the “gates of hell” is partly true.
Brown has been showered with criticism from Filipinos who felt slighted by the unappealing portrayal of Manila in the book, “Inferno.”
But Estrada told radio station dzMM that Brown’s description of Manila as a city plagued by mammoth traffic jams and overpopulation has a semblance of truth, as borne out by a study conducted by the University of the Philippines.
“That is the very reason why I ran for mayor because I was born in Tondo, Manila. Maybe there is some truth to what Dan Brown described because the study submitted to me by UP showed that Manila has the highest level of poverty incidence,” Estrada said.
He said the city has a lot of poor and jobless residents. It is overpopulated, the density is second to Bangladesh. It is the second densest city in the world,” Estrada said.
He said Manila’s peace and order situation is worsening, and many policemen are not getting their allowances.
He also criticized the city’s worsening debt problem.
“Manila is really going to hell. That’s true,” he said
In the “Inferno”, one of the characters decried Manila’s “six-hour traffic jams,” “suffocating pollution” and “horrifying sex trade.”
Estrada said his first priority is to raise funds by checking on Manila’s existing properties
and taxation system.
He said he wants to beef up Manila’s housing program to help informal settlers.