San Juan’s Zamora: I am ‘official’ Duterte candidate, not Estrada

Rambo Talabong

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San Juan’s Zamora: I am ‘official’ Duterte candidate, not Estrada
President Rodrigo Duterte raises the hands of the rival mayoralty candidates in San Juan City: Francis Zamora and Janella Estrada

MANILA, Philippines – Who does President Rodrigo Duterte endorse to become the next San Juan mayor?

It appears both major candidates. Duterte endorsed his PDP-Laban party mate Francis Zamora in a party sortie in Laguna on February 27, but 3 weeks later, on March 20, he also raised the hand of Zamora’s opponent, Vice Mayor Janella Estrada, the daughter of senatorial candidate Jinggoy Estrada and the step-granddaughter of incumbent mayor Guia Gomez. 

Estrada also enjoys the endorsement of presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte,

But according to Zamora, there could only be one “official” endorsement, and he already got it.

Tayo po ang official PDP-Laban candidate. Tayo po ang official mayoralty candidate na inendorso po ni Pangulong Duterte. Suot po natin ang PDP-Laban t-shirt, ibig sabihin po niyan tayo po ang official PDP-Laban candidate. Si Pangulong Duterte po ang PDP-Laban chairman,” Zamora said in the sidelines of his campaign kickoff on Friday, March 29.

(I am the official PDP-Laban candidate. I am the official mayoralty candidate endorsed by President Duterte. I am wearing the PDP-Laban t-shirt, which means I am the official PDP-Laban candidate. President Duterte is the PDP-Laban chairman.)

Duterte is, in fact, the leader of the PDP-Laban party, but as he demonstrated earlier in the campaign period, he crosses party lines when he sees it fit. (READ: How Duterte’s political style is hurting PDP-Laban in 2019)

Zamora is running for mayor with the battle cry of having “a new San Juan.” He aims to end the 5-decade domination of the Ejercito-Estrada clan over the geographically small but economically powerful city.

His platform includes turning San Juan into a “smart city” by installing Wi-Fi in all barangays, building a public hospital with complete equipment, more ambulances and vehicles for police, firefighters, and building new government offices which would adopt a “San Juaneños first” policy.

He lost to Gomez in 2016, but tried to get a redo of the elections through a recall petition. The San Juan Comelec in April 2018 started the verification of 30,000 signatures attached to the complaint.

The Comelec, however, failed to finish the verification of signatures and to set an election before the May 2019. Recall polls are prohibited a year before a regular election. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.