MANILA — Senator-elect JV Ejercito on Thursday admitted he had reservations about his candidacy for a seat at the upper chamber of Congress in this year's elections because of his stand against political dynasties in the country.
"Sa totoo lang, nagdalawang-isip din ako kasi parang noong nakita ko yung mga tatakbo na considering na may family members na at present who are incumbents, parang ilang miyembro lang ng pamilya ang may hawak ng one-fourth of the Senate siguro, kung saka-sakali," Ejercito in an interview on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
Ejercito's half brother, Jinggoy Estrada, also ran for the Senate and won. Other successful senatorial candidates with family members who are already in the chamber are Alan Peter Cayetano (who will join his sister, Pia) and Mark Villar (who will join her mother, Cynthia).
The Senate has 24 members. Another incumbent senator, Imee Marcos, is a sister of presumptive President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr.
"Tinimbang ko 'yan talaga... Sa totoo lang, sorry pero nahihiya din ako na iilang miyembro lang ng pamilya ang nagko-control," Ejercito said.
He said he has backed anti-political dynasty efforts in the past, filing even a bill on it, as well as introducing provisions in the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform law prohibiting children of barangay captains, mayors, governors from being part of the youth council.
Ejercito acknowledged that with more than 100 million Filipinos, many others also aspire to serve and are capable, but unfortunately are not popular and have no machinery and means to get elected.
"Ako po ay sumuporta sa anti-political dynasty. Hindi lang ito nag-progress," he said.
Mindful of this position, plus his desire to push further his advocacy for universal health care (UHC), Ejercito said he considered running instead for a seat at the House of Representatives during his decision-making process for the 2022 elections.
"Nanimbang ako. Sabi ko, mas nanaig itong aking desire na tapusin ang UHC. Iba kasi 'pag nasa Senado ka. Mas maitutulak ko, being the principal sponsor and author," he explained.
"Tingin ko, misyon at obligasyon ko talagang tapusin yung UHC. Kung hindi lang, talagang hindi na sana ako tatakbo sa Senado. Kaya lang, kailangan ko talagang tapusin itong UHC," he added.
When he announced last year his plans for the 2022 elections, Ejercito said he would push for a better heath care system and infrastructure development in the country.
“Now more than ever, the UHC (Universal Health Care) which is still a work in progress, has to be prioritized and implemented properly. I will work doubly hard in order to achieve this vision,” he had said.
Nonetheless, he assured his continuing support for measures in the incoming Senate to end political dynasties in the country.
Asked to comment on views that the legislation process may suffer because of the blood relations of many lawmakers as, expectedly, they have the same values, mindset and agenda, Ejercito said, "Sa akin, hindi applicable 'yan. Even Sen. (Franklin) Drilon said so na mukhang kahit sa mga magpapamilya, mukhang sa amin ay ibang kaso."
Ejercito and Estrada are among the children of ex-President Joseph Estrada. The former's mother is Guia Gomez, while the latter's is Loi Estrada.
The two hugged each other during their proclamation by the Commission on Elections on Wednesday.
A political dynasty is when members of a family hold elective positions in the government successively or simultaneously along with other members to maintain political control.
Political dynasties are banned under the Constitution but the provision requires an enabling law, which Congress has failed to pass for the past 33 years.