He was supposed to prepare for a grand celebration of his 79th birthday, but Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada on Tuesday preferred to lead the inauguration of the Mehan Garden and two newly-renovated public markets in Manila.
Estrada admitted that his birthday wish is that Manileños gift him with the complete victory of his partymates in the local election on May 9.
The vendors replied by shouting “Erap! Erap! Erap pa rin! [We still choose Erap!]”
Estrada is seeking a second term as mayor of Manila under the banner of the Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), with Honey Lacuna as his running mate.
The two-story Sta. Ana Market along Pedro Gil Street cost P274 million, while the San Andres Market along Leveriza, Malate, cost P172 million.
The two are some of the public markets Estrada promised to modernize.
At the reopening of the two public markets, he made it clear that no stall owners will be displaced and that they will remain stall owners of the same public markets where they have been previously doing business.
The newly-refurbished and modernized Sta. Ana and San Andres public markets boast of high-class facilities, sanitary systems, and security features that would rival those found in private malls and supermarkets.
Both markets have elegant public restrooms, air-conditioned common areas, a food court, clean wet and dry sections, fire protection, and CCTVs.
The Sta. Ana Market also has a mini-park by the river complete with a boat terminal.
The two were developed by the XRC Mll Developers, Inc. through a joint venture with the Manila city government.
The newly-renovated public markets have rental fees of P20 to P40, depending on the location of the stall and the goods that the vendors are selling.
There will be no increase in the rental fees for two years, after which only a maximum of 5% to 10% increase would be allowed, Estrada promised.
The market rules and regulations will be strictly implemented in the renovated facilities to prevent syndicates from sabotaging the project to the detriment of the vendors and the buying public, he added.
Estrada completely debunked rumors being circulated by the camp of his principal opponent for mayor that the old stall owners will not be accepted to put up their businesses inside the two public markets.
Former Mayor Alfredo Lim of the Liberal Party (LP) is Estrada’s main opponent for the city government’s top post.
The other candidate is Rep. Amado Bagatsing.
Estrada maintained that he will not engage in another round of debate with his two opponents. He did not appear in a debate on April 5.
“No need. Mga laos na ‘yon, baka sumikat pa sila [They are has-beens, they may even be favored],” Estrada said.
“As my birthday treat to you, I have fulfilled my promise that you are the same ones who would first benefit from this project,” Estrada told the stall owners.
He asked the vendors and their families to vote for his entire slate in the election so that progress in the city will continue.