MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II has gained a key ally in what is shaping to be a tight 2016 presidential race: Mayor Guia Gomez of San Juan City, a member of the influential Ejercito-Estrada clan.
Roxas on Monday, January 18, was the guest of honor and keynote speaker during the city’s flag raising ceremony at the San Juan City Hall. Gomez and other local officials attended the event.
During the flag-raising ceremony, Gomez heaped on praises for Roxas for helping San Juan when the latter was DILG chief, saying he transcended party lines.
Now, Gomez said, it is her turn to transcend party lines by endorsing Roxas’ presidential bid.
In a chance interview with reporters, the San Juan mayor clarified that her endorsement does not mean the entire clan also endorses the LP bet. She said the family will still discuss the matter among themselves.
None of the Ejercitos attended the Monday event, which was was dubbed “San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez opens door to Mar Roxas.”
Gomez is one of the partners of former president-turned-Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada, and Senator JV Ejercito’s mother. It was Estrada who started the Ejercito-Estrada dynasty in San Juan when he was elected mayor in 1969. Senator Ejercito was once mayor of the city.
This slate unites the erstwhile squabbling factions of the family: that of detained Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s and Senator Ejercito’s.
It will also run head-to-head with former allies, the Zamora, for control over the city.
The Zamoras are supporting the presidential bid of Senator Grace Poe.
JV’s mom, Jinggoy’s daughter
Gomez is being challenged by incumbent vice mayor Francis Zamora while Councilor Janella Ejercito, daughter of detained Senator Jinggoy Estrada is running for vice mayor against Councilor Totoy Bernardo.
Zamora’s father, re-electionist Representative Ronaldo Zamora is facing off against Jana Ejercito, a cousin of the two senators. (READ: Mayoral bet Francis Zamora: Time to end ‘Estrada option’ in San Juan)
Picking a presidential candidate to support will prove crucial to the Ejercitos since the Zamoras have already declared support for Poe. Representative Zamora is among Poe’s key advisers in her presidential campaign.
Despite Gomez’ endorsement of Roxas, Senator Ejercito said that he continues to support Poe’s candidacy. “I respect the decision of my mother to support the candidacy of her palangga, Secretary Mar Roxas. We agreed to disagree on our presidential preferences as I will remain supporting my ‘kapatid’ Senator Grace Poe,” Ejercito said in a statement to media.
How about Erap?
Despite the nod from one of the Ejercitos of San Juan, however, the endorsement of the clan’s patriarch is still up for grabs, according to sources.
Gomez and Senator Ejercito earlier told reporters that its possible for the clan to support different presidential bets in 2016.
The popular former president, who was ousted in 2001, has played coy about his preference, namedropping nearly all of the leading presidential candidates including Roxas, Poe, and opposition standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Poe is the adopted daughter of Estrada’s longtime friend, movie legend Fernando Poe, Jr. while Binay was Estrada’s running mate during the latter’s failed bid for the presidency in 2010. Estrada and Binay also joined forces in 2013 under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), which was then a coalition.
Sources close to Estrada, however, said Estrada is picking between Poe and Binay. But this a tricky option given the situation in San Juan.
Will Estrada support Poe, whose bets in San Juan are threatening to end the reign of his family? (READ: Jinggoy Estrada, the Ejercitos and San Juan politics)
In 2010, Binay won over Roxas in San Juan City with over 29,000 votes compared to Roxas’ 20,000.
The Ejercito-Estrada clan in San Juan are all members of their patriarch’s Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), which coalesced with UNA in 2013. The LP did not field any candidates in the city during the mid-term elections. – Rappler.com