MANILA, Philippines – The year 2019 would see two estranged Estrada brothers running for the Senate.
Former senator Jinggoy Estrada and reelectionist senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, who are still not on speaking terms, are set to run for the same post next year.
After being granted temporary freedom from jail, the former senator now said he would run for the Senate – hopefully under the administration ticket. If he would not be listed, he said he would run as an independent candidate supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Estrada was released on bail in September 2017, after being in detention for 3 years over plunder and graft charges.
Asked about his older brother’s decision, Ejercito told Rappler: “It’s a free country. Good luck to him!”
Ejercito has earlier opposed the idea of two brothers running for the Senate. Yet despite this, he said he would still run for reelection.
“Of course, I want my advocacies particularly the massive infrastructure/railway system to happen,” Ejercito said.
In the 16th Congress, the two brothers served together in the Senate. But at the time, Estrada was halfway through his 6-year term while Ejercito was a neophyte senator.
The former senator said their father, former president Joseph Estrada, has no issues with them running in 2019.
“I understand where JV is coming from. He’s an incumbent senator and he wishes to become reelected. I hope he also understands my situation,” Estrada said, as quoted in media reports.
Given the choice, Estrada said he wants a coalition between PDP-Laban and the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino, a party his father, former president Joseph Estrada founded.
But would Ejercito run under the same ticket? It remains uncertain to date. Add to that the fact that the family friends-turned-foes, the Zamoras of San Juan, are already part of the ruling party.
Ejercito earlier expressed dismay over PDP-Laban and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III for not fighting for the inclusion of reelectionist senator-allies in the initial party lineup.
In turn, he said they are forming a so-called third group, which supposedly includes Ejercito, Grace Poe, Juan Edgardo Angara, Cynthia Villar, and Nancy Binay.
Ejercito and Estrada are sons of the former President with different women. The elder Jinggoy is the son of former senator Doctor Loi Estrada while JV’s mother is actress-turned-San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez. Their rivalry worsened because of politics in San Juan, where they both sat as mayors.
The animosity grew when Ejercito signed a Senate committee report against former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla, and his half-brother over the alleged misuse of pork barrel.
Estrada also took offense at Ejercito's recent remarks against the former's plan to run.
“Sometimes, I feel offended... But I kept my silence lalong-lalo na yung sinasabi n'ya na kaya naman daw gusto kong tumakbo (especially when he said the reason I want to run is) in order for me to be vindicated. That’s not true,” Estrada said. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org