FORMER President Joseph Estrada on Monday dismissed reports that he is set to drop from the presidential race in favor of some other candidates in the May 10 elections.

“Hindi ako aatras. Maaari ko bang iiwan si Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, o si Jinggoy, o yung ibang mga senatoriable na tumatakbo sa ilalim ng Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino?” Estrada said in a radio interview Monday morning, stressing that he is a man of honor and one to keep his word.

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“Mga black propaganda lang yan at walang katotohanan,” he added.

Earlier, Estrada admitted that they are experiencing difficulty in raising campaign funds but said it will not affect their campaign sorties.

“Medyo kulang kami sa campaign funds pero meron tayong mga kaibigan na tumutulong naman. Alam naman nating sigurista din ang mga negosyante. Based on my experience pag malapit na eleksyon dun na bumubuhos ang suporta,” Estrada said. “Medyo iba ngayon dahil mahirap ang ekonomiya so hirap din kahit mga negosyante.”

A study conducted by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) showed that the top six presidential candidates spend more than P991 million for advertisements on radio, TV, and the print media from November 2009 to January 2010.

The report also disclosed that in the last three months before the official campaign period, six of the 10 presidential candidates led by Villar spend a whopping P2.1 billion on ads.

Villar bested the other candidates in spending with P1 billion followed while Estrada is in sixth place with P84 million.

Estrada also said he had been receiving feelers to reimburse his campaign expenses in exchange for his support for other candidates.

“May mga nagasasabi na mga kasama, mga kaibigan nila na kung puwede, isoli na ang gastos ko — pero di ko ma-confirm kung totoo iyon — kung susuportahan ko sila. Hindi naman natin puwedeng ipagbili ang ating prinsipyo.”

He said he was confident of winning his second shot at the presidency even if he lags as a constant third in surveys on presidential preference.

“Pagdating ng eleksyon ay aahon tayo,” he said, adding to was too early to predict the winner in the upcoming election.

Estrada has consistently placed third in various surveys behind Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Noynoy Aquino and Manny Villar of the Nacionalista Party (NP).

The 72-year-old Estrada also said that contrary to the rumors, he is not a man of bad habits.

“I stopped drinking hard drinks when I was Vice President,” he clarified.

He said he is healthy and prepared for the campaign, and that his medical records are open to the public for their scrutiny.

In a related development, he said that of all the candidates, it is only him who can be considered as the genuine opposition as he added that the other candidates participated in Edsa Dos in 2001.

“One candidate even banged the gavel to railroad the impeachment trial against me, showing that these other candidates who participated in Edsa Dos in the conspiracy to overthrow the president duly elected by the people are not really opposition members through and through because they helped President Arroyo in the conspiracy to overthrow the duly constituted presidency,” he said, apparently referring to Villar, who was then the House Speaker at the time of his impeachment.

The former President further said he is running to fulfill his promise to the Filipino people of uplifting the lives of the masses.

If elected, Estrada said he will prioritize three items on this agenda: the achievement of peace and order, food security, and ending graft and corruption. (AH/Sunnex)