Former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada addressed a crowd of 10,000 supporters last night, October 21, at the Plaza Amado Hernandez in Tondo, Manila to formally declare his bid for the presidency.

Photo: Noel B. Orsal

Tondo, Manila was all orange last night, October 22, as throngs of Erap supporters crowded Plaza Amado Hernandez to personally hear former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada formally declare his second bid at the presidency, the "last performance of his life."

The crowd went wild as the popular movie and action star, who was wearing his trademark orange jacket and wristband, walked the stage accompanied by his wife, former Senator Luisa "Loi" Ejercito, his daughter Jackie Ejercito-Lopez, and sons Sen. Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada and San Juan Mayor Joseph Victor "JV" Estrada.

The 72-year old politician-actor was also accompanied by other political allies and his newly-declared running mate, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay. Estrada and Binay are running under the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino-UNO (Force of the Filipino Masses).

Event organizers estimated the crowd at about 10,000 people, composed mostly of the Filipino masa, who elected him to presidency in 1998. His presidential career ended in 2001 when he stepped out of Malacañang, amid widespread allegations of corruption.

Estrada was convicted for plunder in September 2007. But he was pardoned by Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo a month later, on condition that he would not anymore seek an elected office in 2010. Critics argue that the Constitution bars the deposed President from running for the same position again.

But in several interviews, Estrada downplayed both the pardon terms and the Constitutional provision. Only the sitting President is barred from reelection, he said.

VOX POPULI, VOX DEI. In his 45-minute declaration speech, Estrada alluded to the Latin phrase vox populi, vox Dei (voice of people, voice of God) to describe his second bid for the highest office of the land.

He also said a minority of "power-hungry elite" snatched the presidency from him and from the poor masses. The administration that replaced him, headed by Pres. Arroyo, his former vice-president, caused the poor to suffer the worst poverty and hunger, he added.

Makati Mayor Binay in his declaration speech promised not to leave Estrada.

"Asahan ninyo na ako ay kasangga, kadamay, at tunay na kasama ni Pangulong Erap. Ako ay hindi babaligtad kailanman at hindi mag-iiwanan ni Erap. Lagi kaming magkasamang tapat," Binay said.

A partial list of senatorial candidates was also revealed. Included are Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, detained Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, Ilocos Rep. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr., Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, businessman Jose "Joey" de Venecia III, and guest candidates Miriam Defensor Santiago of the People Reform's Party and Rep. Rodolfo Plaza of the Nationalist People's Coalition.

"PUSO PARA SA MASA". When PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) asked Sen. Jinggoy how the senatorial candidates were chosen, he said the basis was empathy for the people.

"Basta may puso para sa masa," he said.

The senator added that he still does not know who will fill up the three remaining slots.

"Hindi ko pa alam," he said.