Deposed President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada remains a potent political force to reckon with in 2016, a Malacanang official said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters a day after Estrada skipped the launch of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance as a political party, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the 78-year-old former leader had proven in the last two elections that he still has political clout.
Coloma cited Estrada’s surprise No. 2 ranking in the presidential contest in 2010 and his having defeated reelectionist Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim in 2013 as bases for his assessment.
“Kaya siguro malinaw naman na mayroong impluwensya si Pangulong Estrada [That’s why it’s clear that President Estrada still is influential],” he said.
Estrada, a former movie actor, started his foray into politics in 1969 after he won as mayor of now San Juan City (Metro Manila) and held on to the position for 16 years, before he was removed from office by the Ministry of Local Government after Corazon Aquino took power in 1986.
The following year, he was drafted into the senatorial line-up of the Grand Alliance for Democracy and was one of two opposition candidates who won seats in the 24-man Senate.
In 1992, he initially filed his candidacy for President but eventually slid down to become the running mate of industrialist Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr.
He won the race for Vice President.
Estrada consistently led all pre-election surveys and won the presidency in 1998 by a landslide.
His tenure was abruptly cut off, however, after an uprising following his impeachment in late 2000 forced him out of Malacañang in January 2001.
Estrada was later arrested and convicted for plunder but was freed after he was granted executive clemency by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2007.
Coloma admited that Estrada’s opinion on politics still matters, being a former president.
“You cannot discount the value of the opinion of somebody who became President of the Philippines because only a few managed to get to the highest position of the land,” he said in Filipino.
When asked if Malacañang is trying to court Estrada to side with the administration in the 2016 elections, Coloma said he is not aware of such move.