Grace Poe visits Binay ally ER Ejercito, wife in Laguna

KD Suarez
Grace Poe visits Binay ally ER Ejercito, wife in Laguna
The warring San Luis and Ejercito families in the province separately meet the presidential candidate

LAGUNA, Philippines – Presidential bet Grace Poe on Friday, April 1, met with dismissed governor Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito, a known ally of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

It was Poe’s 2nd visit to the 4th most vote-rich province. This time she courted voters in the towns of Santa Cruz, Lumban, and Siniloan, with two warring families – the San Luises and the Ejercitos – welcoming her.

The neophyte senator took time amid her jam-packed schedule to pay a courtesy visit to Pagsanjan Mayor Maita Ejercito and husband ER.

The two are running for reelection for mayor and governor, respectively, under the opposition’s United Nationalist Alliance. (READ: Binay, Honasan build on ‘core votes’ in Laguna)

Poe downplayed the meeting, saying it is just a usual part of their campaign. The neophyte senator said she did not ask for anything during the meeting.

“Hindi, ano lang ito, courtesy call. ‘Pag pumupunta naman kami sa isang probinsya, dinadaanan namin, kung tatanggapin kami ng lokal na pamahalaan. Matagal na kaming magkakilala pero alam mo naman iba ang partido nila,” Poe said in a chance interview in Pagsanjan.

(No, this is just a courtesy call. Whenever we go to a province, we make it a point to visit the local government if they want to receive us. We have long known each other but you all know he has a different party.)

Asked if the Ejercitos are now supporting her, Poe said: “Wala namang ganoon. Siguro sila na lang ang tanungin ninyo tungkol diyan.” (Nothing like that. Maybe you should just ask them about it.)

The Ejercito couple refused to grant interviews to the media.

The dismissed governor is also the nephew of former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, who recently endorsed Poe, his goddaughter for president.

Despite these connections, Poe maintained the Ejercitos are still allied with UNA: “Of course, and I remain independent.”

Meanwhile, former Liberal Party member Egay San Luis – Ejercito’s lone opponent in the 2013 gubernatorial race and the same person who lodged a dismissal case against the former – joined Poe in all her events in the province, except during the Poe-Ejercito meeting in Pagsanjan.

San Luis left the ruling party in October 2015 after the LP did not endorse his candidacy for governor, even after he succeeded in removing Ejercito from office, he said.

He is now eyeing a seat in Congress for the 4th district of the province.

“Ako’y po’y dapat panlaban nila ng governor. Ako po ang naging regional chairman ng LP. Na-disqualify ko po si Governor ER, ang umupo po si Ramil (Hernandez). Ang aking pong inaasahan ako po ang ipaglalaban ulit ng Liberal, kaya nga lang di ko po akalain na ako ay maiiwanan ng Liberal Party,” San Luis told reporters. (I was supposed to be their gubernatorial bet. I was the regional chairman of the LP. I disqualified Governor ER, and Ramil (Hernandez) sat as governor. I was hoping I would be LP’s candidate for governor but I did not expect that I would be left by the Liberal party.)

‘Nothing wrong’

UNA president Toby Tiangco said there is “nothing wrong” with the meeting. The Vice President, after all, does the same thing when he campaigns nationwide.

“It’s totally accepted. Just like VP Binay made a courtesy call yesterday to Eastern Samar Governor Conrado Nicart Jr, who is LP,” Tiangco told Rappler in a text message.

Tiangco is confident of Ejercito’s support for Binay despite Erap’s endorsement of Poe, saying the governor knows who has the heart and experience to lead. The camp of Binay has repeatedly hit the neophyte senator for her inexperience in government service.

“Governor ER knows very well who is the candidate that has done most for the poor and who has the heart and experience to help the poor and that is only Binay,” He said.

Both Ejercito and Binay are linked to corruption cases. – Rappler.com

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