The birthday bash of former President and incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada on Wednesday turned out to be a political gathering with the presence of high-profile guests like President Rodrigo Duterte; former Vice President Jejomar Binay; former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ferdinand Marcos Jr., then President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; and Ilocos Norte lawmaker Imelda Marcos.Also spotted at Estrada’s special night at the Manila Hotel were his friends in politics; family members, including his son former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and allies.
In his message to Estrada, Mr. Duterte cited their resemblances including the challenges they face while occupying the country’s highest post.
The President also praised members of Estrada Cabinet who he said are “brilliant men who could run the economy well, assuring the people that they are also clean and honest.”
Some of Estrada’s economic managers are currently in the incumbent administration including Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and former National Treasurer Leonor Briones, who is now the Education chief.
Mr. Duterte also reiterated his commitment to eliminate illegal drugs and corruption in the country, noting that failing to address the problem threatens the next generation of Filipinos.
Estrada has been supporting the President’s intensified campaign against narcotics trade.
At the same time, Mr. Duterte promised to go after the country’s abusive oligarchs, particularly those who are not paying the correct taxes.
The government’s peace talks with the communists and Muslim separatists are ongoing, he added, as he warned about the threats from Islamic extremists.
Before heading to Estrada’s birthday celebration, Mr. Duterte teased the former that he will put back him to jail anew.
Prior to his remark, he recalled how Estrada once vented frustration on his being “low class.”
“Erap, that foolish one, is waiting for me because it’s his birthday now,” he said at the grand launch of Cine Lokal in Pasay City late Wednesday evening.
“What now? I’ll send you back to jail!” he joked.
Right after his speech, Mr. Duterte went straight to Estrada’s birthday party.
Estrada is the godfather of Duterte’s grandson, Marko Digong, the youngest son of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and lawyer Manases Carpio.