Jinggoy sings back: 'Walk away, please go'
MANILA - Senators JV Ejercito admitted that signing the Blue Ribbon committee report recommending plunder charges against his colleagues widened the rift between him and his half-brother, Senator Jinggoy Estrada.
But Ejercito explained that it was nothing personal, and he still hopes that Estrada, along with Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr. would not end up in jail.
Speaking to reporters, Ejercito said his prayers are with Jinggoy's family and that he "feels" for them, especially for Jinggoy's eldest daughter, Janela, who he says has been good to him and his mother Guia.
"Kahit hindi kami nag-uusap, kahit hindi kami in good terms, to be honest, he's still my brother at magkadugo kami. I feel bad about his predicament right now. I know what he feels. We went through that already in the past, and for him to go through this all over again must be very hard especially for the family," Ejercito said.
Ejercito said his signing of the report implicating his half-brother "added fuel to the fire" but added that there is no reason for [Jinggoy] Estrada to be upset, saying that he shares Estrada's position that the probe should not only focus on the alleged involvement of the three legislators.
"I think my signing definitely, I would say, added fuel to the fire. Unfortunately, he did not try to understand first. I am very positive when he [reads] my explanation, he would have understood my position," Ejercito said.
Ejercito revealed that he also got a call from their father, former President Joseph Estrada, immediately after he signed the report.
"I was expecting it, that he would not like it, but I was also surprised that in one of the interviews that I read, he said that I knew what I was doing and I'm old enough to know what I'm doing and that the position that I made was right. I'm hoping that he understood," he said.
Ejercito also told his father that he signed the report with reservations, saying the blue ribbon committee should expand its investigation to include other NGOs said to be involved in the pork barrel scam.
He also told his father that he had consulted Senate minority leader Juan Ponce Enrile before signing the committee report. He also told his plan to Revilla but did not get the chance to tell Estrada.
"Ang sabi sa akin ni Senator Enrile, 'Tama 'yan. Bakit nila sini-single out, bakit sila selective? Dapat talaga lahat so I guess Senator Enrile understood my position," he said.
Ejercito said that he was in a "hard, precarious situation," having to balance the interests of his family and his duty.
"I just have to rely on my better judgment. As I have said I would always remember that I am accountable… I will always to remember that I was put in this position by the electorate who entrusted me with their confidence. So I will always put more weight in my accountability more than my responsibility as a party member or as a family member. So my accountability would play a big factor in my decision," he said.
With their rift already known to the public, the half-brothers are not on good terms. Their rivalry worsened in the last elections where they fielded two separate local tickets in their home turf in San Juan City.
"I have to be honest. Well, it (the relationship) has improved before. At least hindi na kami masyado nag-aaway pero 'yun nga lang, nakikita niyo naman, hindi kami close, hindi kami chummy-chummy. Mas lalo ngayon kasi sa nangyari. Kasi may misunderstanding e. Ang akin, sana lang kung binasa ang aking explanation, I think he would have understood. Wala siyang rason magalit," he said.
Ejercito said that he got close to Jinggoy in the aftermath of the ouster of their father from the presidency in 2001.
"There was a time that because of our probably misery, our depression, there was a time that we became close," he said, hoping that they would still be able to patch things up in the future.
"I hope he would realize that there's nobody else to lean on except family. 'Yung mga friends natin especially political allies, kapag wala ka na, wala na rin 'yan. But the family, whether you like it or not, we are there," he said.
"There would come a time, I hope, that we would both realize that we are still brothers in the end, I hope."
Ejercito quoted a line from the song, "I'll be There," telling Jinggoy to just "call my name" when he needs him.
JINGGOY SINGS TOO
Asked for his reaction, Senator Jinggoy Estrada quoted from Matt Monroe's "Walk Away," and sang the lines "Walk away, please go, before you throw your life away."
Estrada admitted feeling slighted when Ejercito signed the committee report. But Estrada denied berating Ejercito, saying he never had the chance to speak to him.
"Deep inside, of course (nasaktan ako). I didn't expect him, much less him, to sign it. 'Yung iba, hindi ko naman kadugo ang mga iba, okay lang. Naintindihan ko sila. [But] there was no opportunity for me to talk to him or vice versa. Hindi naman niya ako kinausap, hindi ko naman siya kakausapin," Estrada said.