MANILA, Philippines – Ahead of the filing of Certificates of Candidacy for the May 2019 polls, reelectionist Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito officially left Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), the party of his father, former president and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
Ejercito took his oath as a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition on Wednesday, October 10, before Senate President Vicente Sotto III, an NPC elder and senior adviser.
“It was a difficult decision. Siyempre, mahirap din iwanan ang partido ng iyong ama. Gusto ko lang liwanagin bagama't mayroong disagreements, 'di ko pinuputol 'yung pagiging ama [niya], ang pagmamahal nandiyan. Utang ko buhay ko, pagpapalaki sa akin sa kanya," the senator said.
(Of course, it's difficult to leave the party of your father. I just want to clarify that while we have disagreements, I am not cutting ties with him as my father. My love for him is still there. I owe my life and my upbringing to to him.)
Ejercito and his father have not been on speaking terms for quite a while, following the announcement of half-brother former senator Jinggoy Estrada that he would also run for the Senate.
“I would need another party. At dahil sabi ko nga, sa aking paniniwala, 'yun pong sa aking prinsipyo, isa lang [dapat]…kung meron man akong isang partido na nakikita na karamihan kaibigan, karamihan kakilala [ay NPC] (and as I said, I believe that there should only be one candidate. If there's one party that I know is friends with almost everyone, it's NPC)," Ejercito said.
Sotto welcomed Ejercito to the NPC, consistently the second biggest political party under any administration.
"With open arms, we are honored and very glad to have him. He is one of the more productive members of the Senate especially here in 17th Congress…so it's an added feather in the cap of the NPC to have JV in our party," Sotto said.
However, NPC is also eyeing supporting Jinggoy for 2019. Asked about it, Ejercito said he would "respect" the decision of the party leadership. The two brothers are also being endorsed by Hugpong ng Pagbabago of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio.
Citing his ratings dip, Ejercito lamented his older brother’s supposed edge for carrying the well-known Estrada family name.
In June, Ejercito ranked 6th to 13th in pre-election surveys, making him well within the so-called Magic 12 or among the probable winners if elections were held during the survey period. Estrada was also in the winners' circle at 5th to 12th ranking in the June poll.
In September, Ejercito's ranking dropped to 11th to 17th, just on the edge of the winning circle. Estrada went up to 6th to 10th.
Estrada is out on bail after 3 years in detention over plunder and graft charges in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.
The estranged brothers are sons of the former president with different women. Estrada is the son of former senator Loi Ejercito Estrada, while JV's mother is actress-turned-San Juan City Mayor Guia Gomez. The brothers' rivalry worsened because of politics in San Juan City, where both had served as mayors, and in the Senate. (READ: JV Ejercito signs ‘pork’ plunder report vs brother) – Rappler.com