SILAY CITY, Negros Occidental -- It is former president Joseph Estrada’s destiny to lead the country once again as he alone, among all the presidential candidates in the May 10 elections, has the ability, leadership skills and experience, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said Monday.

“Siya ang itinadhana, siya ang itinuro ng Diyos sa atin dahil sa siya ang may kakayahan na solusyunan ang mga problema ng ating bansa,” Enrile told hundreds of Negrenses.

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Estrada and the candidates of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) arrived Monday morning in Silay City, Negros Occidental as the first stop of their four day campaign sorties in the province.

The re-electionist senator said Estrada has the proven capability to lead the country out of the current problems it is facing citing his experience as a local chief executive of San Juan for many years, as a senator and vice president before his run for the presidency in 1998.

Estrada was accompanied in the sortie by his running mate Makati mayor Jejomar Binay and PMP senatorial bets JV Bautista, Francisco “Kit” Tatad, Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza, Apolinario “Jun” Lozada, and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada.

The event was also attended by celebrities Lorna Tolentino and Tirso Cruz III.

Earlier, Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, standard bearer of the Liberal Party (LP) said the presidency is his destiny as he recalled the sacrifices of his family during the long detention of his father, the martyred Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.

He also referred to the peaceful revolt that brought his mother Corazon Aquino to the presidency in 1986 and the outpouring of support during her funeral last year that eventually snowballed into mounting calls for him to run as president.

“Sa mga nanlalait, hindi lang sa akin, kundi sa panawagan ng panahon, simple lang ang sagot dito: Ito ang ating tadhana,” he added.

Aquino critics said he is a “political lightweight” who is banking on his lineage and the popularity of his parents.

For his part, Binay said their team will work to ensure that the people, especially the poor would enjoy peace and security, health and education if they are elected in office in the upcoming polls.

“Gusto nyo bang gumanda ang inyong buhay? Gusto nyo ba ng peace and order, kalusugan ay mabawasan o mawala ang kahirapan? Pinapangako po namin sa inyo na gagawin namin ang inyong mga gusto at gaganda ang buhay nyo. Ang atin pong iboto ay ang may mga karanasan at kakayahan sa pamumuno,” Binay said.

He added that if elected, he and Estrada will work to ensure the many innovative programs implemented in Makati such as the free education up to college level and benefits to senior citizens would be implemented nationwide.

Estrada said he is taking the challenge of running for the presidency once again saying his only wish is to fulfill his promise in 1998 to uplift the lives of the poor which was cut short when he was ousted in a military-backed civilian uprising in 2001.

“Wala na akong ibang pangarap I’ve lived my life to the fullest and this is the twilight of my life, my only dream is to be remembered as the champion of the cause of the masses. Yun lamang ang hangad ko na after all the masses have done for me, I want to reciprocate in my last years in government service.”

He furthered that he has only three main platform of governance: peace and order, food security and eradicating graft and corruption in the bureaucracy.

He said it pained him so much to see the gains of his administration, especially in agriculture. “We all know that we had the biggest farm output during my time. From negative six percent to six percent positive growth rate. So ngayon maraming nagugutom na tao and this is according to surveys. Millions of Filipinos are experiencing hunger. During my time hindi nangyari yun. During my time, walang mahabang pila pila sa bigas. My predecessor may pila sa bigas tapos ngayon may pila na naman sa bigas.Ngayon lang ulit nangyari yan.” (AH/Sunnex)