MANILA— Former senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said Tuesday he was confident of his "unblemished" track record in seeking another term at the Senate as his brother, former senator Jinggoy Estrada, also sought to compete for a seat.
The siblings both ran and failed to secure a seat in the 2019 midterm elections, with re-electionist Ejercito landing on the 13th spot and Estrada placing 15th.
"There was an effort brokered by friends and (we) finally talked after years, just last month. We both agreed that if we both run, chances are we both won’t make it. Somehow, both of us again decided to run," he told ANC's Headstart.
For his comeback bid, Ejercito said he sees a need to better enforce the Universal Health Care law, which he crafted.
"Because of the prevailing situation now, because of the problems brought about by the pandemic, I somehow feel all the more the Universal Health Care Law has to be implemented properly."
Ejercito said their father, former president and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, had told him to consider running for a local position, but he did not want to as his mother advised him against it.
"As a son, I’m sure that if I decided to run, if I throw myself in the local arena again, I’m sure my mother will campaign very hard. She had COVID also twice," he added.
His after, deposed president and former Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, has said he would not meddle, according to Ejercito.
"To cut the long story short, ang sabi lang niya 'Malaki na kayo pareho, ayaw ko na makialam kasi kung susuportahan ko isa, magtatampo ang isa... so nasa sa inyo na 'yan. Basta ako, whatever your decision is, I’m still your father, I will support you,'" he said.
(To cut the long story short, he said 'You're both grownups, I don't want to meddle because if I support one of you, the other will sulk...so it's up to you. Whatever, whatever your decision is, I’m still your father I will support you.)
Ejercito added that he and his father had "patched things up" after last election's "misunderstanding."
"I really felt bad because I was a reelectionist that time and I feel I really had a mission to really complete... Nakiusap nga ako sana patapusin nila ako. Hindi natuloy 'yun, we patched things up after, anyway he’s still my father," he said.
(I appealed to them to let me finish, which did not happen. We patched things up after, anyway he’s still my father.)
"I have to admit that I lost my position not because of my own doing. Hopefully I’ll be given the chance again this time around. I know it’s different but I hope people will be more discerning in their choices."
The former senator said he would prioritize funding for health workers and health care facilities to properly implement the Universal Health Care law, being its principal sponsor.
"It’s my obligation really as the principal sponsor, to make sure that the Universal Health Care Law, a work in progress, has to be implemented properly to benefit all Filipinos," he said.
Ejercito said he would campaign with his "seatmates" at the Senate, which include Senators Miguel Zubiri, Sherwin Gatchalian, Joel Villanueva, and former senator Loren Legarda.
Ejercito is a member of Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), chaired by vice presidential aspirant Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
Ejercito, however, said he was approached by presidential aspirant Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, and was also "in talks" with former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and Vice President Leni Robredo.
"His (Marcos) people are the one who got in touch with me, they said in case Bongbong Marcos pushes through that they would want me also in the senatorial slate of Bongbong Marcos," he said.
"I think my performance and unblemished track record has helped me a lot on why the presidential candidates would want me on their team."