MANILA - A mutual decision to run in next year’s midterm elections could put two Estradas in the same Senate once again, raising questions over the persistence of political dynasties in Philippine politics.
Current efforts to shift to federalism have given rise to concerns that the new government structure would only empower and “fatten” dynasties even more.
But former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said voters would ultimately determine “if they want two Estradas there.”
Estrada’s half-brother, Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito, is eyeing reelection, but insisted in a previous ANC interview that only one of them should run.
“Eh di salamat, baka ako yung tinutukoy nya, di ba?” Estrada replied in jest in an interview with ANC’s Early Edition.
(Thank you, maybe I'm the one he was referring to.)
Ejercito earlier cited his advocacy against political dynasties, even if critics also questioned his family’s tight grip on politics in San Juan City.
The Estradas have been in control of San Juan since 1969, the year former President Joseph Estrada first became mayor. Ejercito’s mother, Guia Gomez, is the outgoing mayor.
Jinggoy Estrada said political families should not be barred from public office “as long as we serve with utmost integrity, dedication and honesty.”
Estrada is out on bail after three years in detention over a plunder case. He denied pocketing P183 million in congressional pork barrel.
A victory in next year’s senatorial election, he said, would serve as “vindication,” the same argument used by his father when he ran again for president in 2010 after being pardoned in his plunder conviction.
How much longer the Estradas can remain in power now depends on a looming recall election against Gomez this year, and the outcome of the mayoral race in 2019.
Estrada backed Ejercito’s mother in 2016 despite their bad blood.
Estrada admitted he was not on speaking terms with Ejercito, in a feud people close to them said began much earlier.
‘BLOOD THICKER THAN WATER’
The animosity boiled over in 2014 when Ejercito signed a committee report tagging his older brother in the pork barrel scam.
“Sumama lang talaga loob ko,” said Estrada, who briefly joined his half-brother in the Senate before going to jail that year.
(I really felt bad.)
But with the Estrada dynasty at stake, he acknowledged the need to unite as a family against a common political enemy.
Long-time ally Rep. Ronaldo Zamora turned against the Estradas when he fielded his son, then Vice Mayor Francis Zamora, against Gomez in the 2016 mayoral election.
The younger Zamora is set to challenge Gomez in a possible recall election which Estrada dismissed as a “waste of time.”
Despite all that was said and done, Estrada said “blood is thicker than water.”