MANILA - Former Sen. JV Ejercito on Friday said San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora has yet to release the retirement pay of several city hall workers who were allied with the Ejercito-Estrada clan.
Zamora's "vindictiveness has not stopped" long after the 2019 elections, Ejercito told ANC's Headstart.
"The secretary of my dad, panahon pa ni (who has worked since the time of) Mayor Erap... They have not gotten their retirement pay because they are Estrada people," he said.
There was also an employee who died due to depression after alleged ill treatment from the Zamora administration, he said.
"One employee, a model employee, died a few days ago... From the HR department, a model employee, he was thrown to the market," he said.
Zamora denied Ejercito's allegations, saying the employee was actually promoted to head a public market in San Juan, after its former administrator fell ill.
"I promoted him to salary grade 18. Prinomote ko siya because gusto ko siya... Kung vindictive ako, bakit ko siya ipropromote?" Zamora told ABS-CBN News in a separate interview.
(I promoted him because I like him. If I am vindictive, why would I promote him?)
"He's (Ejercito) making it sound as if it was a demotion. It's not a demotion. We gave him a bigger responsibility... dahil sa skills niya, nakita namin na kaya niya gawin yung tungkulin ng market master," he said.
(We gave him a bigger responsibility. Because of his skills, we saw that he could take on the job of market master.)
Zamora said the employee died due to an illness, which he did not disclose for the deceased person's privacy.
"I visited the wake... along with my wife. Lahat ng mga pangangailangan inasikaso natin from the hospital care to the cremation," the mayor said.
Ejercito said several employees have filed complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman, and appealed to the San Juan City mayor not to drag city hall workers into their families' political squabbles.
"I appeal to him right now, employees who have served our city, sana wag na idamay (should not be dragged into this)," he said.
"I am just appealing to Mayor Francis. Hayaan na lang sa atin, tayo na lang ang magbangayan (Let's keep this between us, we should be the only ones bickering)," he said.
Zamora belied Ejercito's accusations, saying the city government has already disbursed some P18 million in payment to retired and resigned city hall workers, including allies of the former Ejercito-Estrada administration.
"I have approved all of them but we cannot release them altogether because as you all know since last year, we have been facing COVID," Zamora said.
"Kailangan nating budgetin din yung pondo natin. Kailangan natin i-prioritize din yung COVID response," he said, noting that San Juan City lost "a few hundred millions" in revenues after several businesses closed due to the pandemic.
(We need to budget our funds. We need to prioritize the COVID response.)
The Zamora clan broke off their ties with the family of former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada in 2016 after members the Ejercito-Estrada clan occupied both the mayor and vice mayor positions in San Juan City, where power has been shared between the 2 dynasties for decades.
In 2019, Zamora toppled the decades-long rule of the Ejercito-Estradas in San Juan when he was elected as city mayor.
"The problem with Mayor Francis, he has been very political," Ejercito said, alleging that the local chief executive "has not stopped attacking" his mother, former San Juan City Mayor Guia Gomez.
"He thinks we Ejercito-Estradas have the intention of running again [in San Juan] so parang ang kaniya, we eliminate the enemy," he said.
Zamora also denied this statement, underscoring that he helped Gomez secure a Pfizer vaccine, which was recommended by the former mayor's doctor.
"The former mayor, Guia Gomez, ka-text ko pa siya. Ako ang nag-facilitate ng kaniyang 2 doses ng vaccination. Baka hindi alam ng anak niya? Baka hindi kinuwento ni Mayor Guia sa anak niya?" he said.
(Former Mayor Guia Gomez and I were texting. I facilitated her vaccination, 2 doses. Maybe her son does not know? Maybe Mayor Guia did not tell her son?)
"She was very happy. Nagpaabot pa siya ng pasasalamat na nabakuhan siya that everything went well... so anong political vindictivenss ang sinasabi niya?" the mayor said.
(She extended her gratitude because she was vaccinated and everything went well. So what political vindictiveness are they talking about?)
Ejercito, also a former mayor of San Juan City, said he does not intend to run for a local post in the 2022 national elections.
"In case I would return to public office, I want to continue my job in the Senate," he said.