MANILA, Philippines – A prominent member of the Ejercito-Estrada clan dropped by Camp Crame on Wednesday, July 9, but he wasn’t there to visit his brother detained over corruption charges.
Instead, Senator JV Ejercito, half-brother of indicted Senator Jinggoy Estrada, dropped by the Philippine National Police (PNP) camp to visit Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.
Estrada and Enrile are detained at the police camp after the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan ordered them arrested for allegedly pocketing millions of pesos in “pork barrel” funds through fake projects of bogus nongovernmental organizations.
Estrada is detained at the PNP Custodial Center alongside Senator Ramong “Bong” Revilla Jr, also charged for graft and plunder. Enrile, meanwhile, is staying at the PNP General Hospital where he is under “temporary hospital confinement” owing to his medical condition.
Speaking to reporters, Ejercito said he didn’t visit Estrada because he wanted to avoid visitation issues. The custodial center’s warden was sacked by the PNP after it was discovered that visitors were allowed in the jail beyond visiting hours on June 28, Saturday.
At that time, Estrada and Revilla were only allowed “regular” visitors Thursdays and Sundays. PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac said Estrada had asked for a special visiting day because it was his wedding anniversary.
The PNP has since changed visiting hours in the custodial center, and now follow’s the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology’s visiting conventions.
Ejercito added he plans to visit Estrada next week. Only people whose names are in pre-approved lists by detainees are allowed to visit them.
The senator earlier said he would visit Estrada once he “feels the situation is better.”
Brother to brother
Tensions between the two are no secret and Ejercito did not skirt the issue during his visit to Crame. “Meron kaming di pagkasunduan lalo na ang aking pagpirma (We had a disagreement over my signing of the document),” said Ejercito.
He was referring to his decision to sign a Senate Blue Ribbon committee’s report recommending plunder charges against Estrada, Revilla, and Enrile.
The senator, however, admitted he signed the report with reservations because it was incomplete. But he insisted his responsibility to voters outweighs his responsibility to his family and partymates. Revilla and Enrile are Ejercito’s allies in the opposition.
The two brothers are known to have a sibling rivalry, which Ejercito mentioned in a press conference during his senatorial bid in 2012 – a pronouncement that upset Estrada, who was already in the Senate then.
During a dramatic privilege speech at the Senate, Revilla half-joked it was his wish for Estrada and Ejercito to reconcile.
Jinggoy and JV are sons of former President Joseph Estrada with former Senator Luisa “Loi” Estrada and former actress and San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez, respectively. – with reports from Bea Cupin/Rappler.com