House of Estrada falls in May 2019 polls

Rambo Talabong, Lian Buan

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House of Estrada falls in May 2019 polls
(3rd UPDATE) Erap Estrada and his family lose in local and national contests

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Estradas fell from power in national and local races on Monday, May 13.

The patriarch, ousted president Joseph “Erap” Estrada, lost in Manila while his granddaughter, mayoral bet Janella Ejercito Estrada, lost in San Juan.

Estrada’s daughter with Laarni Enriquez, Jerika Ejercito, lost in her bid for councilor in the 4th district of Manila.

In the senatorial race, Estrada’s son Jinggoy is out of the 12-person winning circle – ranked 15th based on latest returns Tuesday morning, May 14. His other son JV Ejercito was at number 13 as of Tuesday morning.

Even in their home city of San Juan, former senator Jinggoy lost in the senatorial race, placing 13th. He served as mayor for 9 years before he became senator. JV, who also served as mayor and congressman of the city, placed 3rd. His mother is the incumbent mayor. 

Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito, Estrada’s nephew who ran for Laguna governor, is losing based on partial and unofficial results from 51.2% of precincts as of early Tuesday. He was up against incumbent Governor Ramil Hernandez and 4 other rivals. 

Gary Jason “Gary” Estrada, who ran for Cainta vice mayor, is losing to Ace Servillon, based on partial and unofficial returns early Tuesday.

In Manila, the former president lost his reelection bid to former ally Isko Moreno Domagoso. 

As of 5:09 am Tuesday, May 14, Moreno had 347,982 votes – a huge lead of close to 150,000 – over Estrada’s 203,993, according to partial and official votes canvassed by the City Board of Canvassers. 

The votes come from more than 94.7% of Manila’s precincts. 

The other candidate, Alfredo Lim, had 134,478 votes, while Francis Villegas had 2,200.

In San Juan, former vice mayor Francis Zamora ousted the Estradas, ending a long rule by the dynasty in the city.

By Monday evening, Zamora, who belongs to a political dynasty too, had 35,060 votes against Estrada’s 24,813. Zamora was proclaimed the next city mayor of San Juan at around 11 pm at a packed San Juan City Gymnasium.

Upsets, but not surprising

In both cities, the defeats can be considered upsets but they are not totally surprising.

Moreno and Zamora enjoyed leads in pre-election surveys that gave both their campaign teams, and their supporters, justified confidence coming to election day.

Two days before the elections, Moreno even proclaimed in Pandacan that white smoke was already coming out of the City Hall. Moreno’s campaign tried to balance out its messaging, forward-looking yet always pointing out the shortcomings of the Estrada leadership.

“Eh kapag kulang sa enerhiya, kulang sa pangarap o bisyon ang isang lider eh syempre magiging passive ang lahat, so limited talaga, in fairness sa lahat ng vice mayor sa buong Pilipinas,” Moreno said.

(When the mayor lacks energy, aspiration, or vision, everything will be passive, so what you can do is limited, in fairness to all vice mayors in the country.)

Moreno perfected the “Batang Tondo (Child of Tondo)” narrative, playing up his past of earning money as a garbage collector before he got a break in the entertainment industry. Then he pivoted to his plans of a 10-year physical development plan to transform Manila in the problematic areas of garbage and traffic.

“We tried our best in our own little way to send a very positive campaign – more on programs of governance, our dreams, aspirations, plans for the city of Manila,” Moreno said.

Moreno was also more visible. In the heavily-advertised debate called “Thrilla in Manila” on March 29, only Moreno showed up. Estrada and Alfredo Lim did not.

Old kingdom falls in San Juan

San Juan is the oldest kingdom of the Estradas.

Their rule began in 1969 when 32-year-old Joseph Estrada became mayor. Since then no one has defeated the Estrada family in a mayoral race.

From Erap, the throne was passed on to Jinggoy, who was then succeeded by his half-brother JV Ejercito, whose mother Guia Gomez took over as mayor until she maxed out the 3-term limit up to 2019.

Janella was thus eyed to extend the line of succession in San Juan. Until last Monday.

Zamora defeated Estrada with his promise of a “New San Juan” – the same promise that he gave in 2016. He lost by a hairline to Guia Gomez then.

Unlike in the past, Zamora’s bid has been charged with the support of the ruling party PDP-Laban, and the endorsement of the bloc-voting Iglesia Ni Cristo.

Throughout his campaign, Zamora branded himself as a successor in politics to his father, longtime congressman Ronaldo Zamora, who has won his 9th term as congressman.

The Zamoras accused the Estradas of steering the city to stagnation. Francis Zamora believes that more San Juaneños see this now, more than ever.

The Estradas used to be allies with the Zamoras, with Francis even once serving as vice mayor to Guia Gomez. But the Zamoras have tired of being second in command.

They have called for a “new time” for San Juaneños – an era where no Estrada rules. –

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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.
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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.