San Juan’s Janella Ejercito Estrada: I did not run because of my name

Rambo Talabong

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San Juan’s Janella Ejercito Estrada: I did not run because of my name

‘Hindi po ako andito sa entabladong ito dahil lang po sa aking pangalan, dahil lang po isa akong Estrada,’ says San Juan City mayoral bet Janella Ejercito Estrada

MANILA, Philippines – A third generation member of a powerful political dynasty, Janella Ejercito Estrada tried to inspire her supporters on Saturday, May 11, as the campaign period closed, saying that she did not run for mayoral of San Juan because of her last name, but because of her willingness to serve them.

Tunay na hangarin ko po, ang akin pong pangarap ay tumulong sa ating mga kababayan. Dahil hindi po ako andito sa entabladong ito dahil lang po sa aking pangalan… dahil lang po isa akong Estrada. At hindi po ako nakatayo dito dahil sa dugo namin ang paglilingkod. Sa totoo lang po, nakatayo po ako dito dahil ito po ang nasa totoong nasa puso ko po,” Estrada said at a packed Pinaglabanan Shrine grounds, which embraces San Juan City hall.

(My real dream is to help our people, because I am not here at this stage because of my name, just because I am an Estrada. And I am not standing here because service is in our blood. To tell you the truth, I am standing here because it is in my heart.)

The Pwersa ng Masa ng Pilipino (PMP) candidate comes from a family which has controlled San Juan City for 5 decades – starting with her grandfather Joseph Ejercito Estrada, followed by her father Jinggoy Estrada, her uncle JV Ejercito, and JV’s mother Guia Gomez. Janella entered San Juan politics in 2013 after graduating college, running for councilor, then vice mayor.

Her statement counters the statements against her by her rival Francis Zamora, who has branded the young Estrada as a puppet of her father Jinggoy.

Zamora is a former ally of her family who is aligned with the ruling party PDP Laban. Unlike Janella’s promises of continuation, Zamora seeks to end the Estrada-Ejercito family’s control of the city.

Throughout her campaign, she has promised to continue what she calls the “legacy” of her kin. But in her miting de avance, she claimed that she was just out there to fulfill a promise.

Nangako po ako sa inyo, simula po ako’y naging konsehal, hanggang ako’y naging vice mayor, na kailanman po ay ‘di ko po kayo iiwan at hindi ko po kayo pababayaan (I made a promise to you all, back when I was councilor up to when I was vice mayor that I will not leave or neglect you),” Estrada said.

Estrada did not renew or add more to the promises that she said in her campaign launch. The people already knew them, she said, after she had told them everything when she completed her house-to-house visits. (READ: Old name, new promises? Janella Estrada begins San Juan bid)

What Estrada emphasized was her desire is to continue making “history”—a history that, ironically, is largely associated with her name.

It’s a history that is under threat as her opponent Zamora has pressed in his campaigns that San Juan city has stagnated because of mismanagement of the Estrada clan. Her response to his call for an overhaul lies in her miting de avance speech.

“We will contiue making history. Together, we will continue breaking barriers, and together, we will continue building a better, greater, and united San Juan City,” she said. –

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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.