MANILA — Former senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito on Friday announced he would seek a senate comeback in the 2022 elections, three years since failing his reelection bid.
In a media forum, Ejercito said he would push for a better heath care system and infrastructure development in the Philippines.
“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 said.
In the Senate, Ejercito authored the Universal Health Care Bill, which automatically enrolls all Filipino citizens in the National Health Insurance Program and calls for complementary reforms in the health system.
Ejercito, a member of the Nationalist People's Coalition, said his inclusion in the senatorial line-up of various political parties was a factor in his decision.
“I’m quite close to most of the major presidential candidates right now that have signified intention. Nakakataba rin ng puso na at least gusto ka nila. Siguro nagtitiwala sila sa akin kaya nagtuloy na rin ako,” he said.
(It's heartwarming that they like you. Maybe they trust me that's why I am pursuing this.)
Ejercito was a senator from 2013 to 2019. He also served as San Juan City lawmaker from 2010 to 2013, and as mayor from 2001 to 2010.
In the interim, he shared photos and videos of his bike rides and food on social media, and even started a vlog.
Ejercito admits he is not well-funded in what he expects to be a tight race, with a number of former senators eyeing a return to the upper chamber.
He adds, however, that he is banking on his track record as a public servant.
“Having to run in two consecutive national elections is just too much especially for the funding purposes,” he said.
He continued: “The only thing that I am really, really proud of and that I can offer is my good name. I may not be as moneyed or as well-funded like other candidates but I guess my performance in the Senate…my track record as congressman and as mayor of San Juan, my public service record is very clean. Wala ho tayong bahid, wala ho tayong sabit.”
Ejercito said the possible candidacy of his half-brother, former senator Jinggoy Estrada, might also make the Senate race more challenging for him.
“It might be like 2019 all over again kasi hindi kami nagkaayos. Baka kung sakali dalawa na naman kaming tatakbo kaya mabigat talaga ang magiging laban ko,” he said.
(It might be like 2019 all over again because we did not reconcile. Maybe both of us will run again so my battle will be difficult.)
The half-brothers are the son of deposed president and former Manila mayor Joseph Estrada.
Ejercito and Estrada both lost in the 2019 Senate race, with analysts saying that several voters were either confused about the 2 Ejercito-Estradas in the ballot or were turned off with the idea of having an Estrada dynasty in the legislative chamber.
Ejercito said there was no discussion that only one of them should seek a Senate seat.
Estrada said in July, however, that it would be better if only one of them ran for the Senate.