Family feud rocks Estrada dynastyBy Cathy C. Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada released a statement Thursday saying he was “deeply hurt” that his younger half-brother, San Juan Rep. Jose Victor “JV” Ejercito Estrada, discussed their long-rumored “rift” in an interview with reporters during a provincial trip last month.
Jinggoy said he believed JV was now bringing their rather uncomfortable relationship to the fore to create publicity for his run for the Senate next year.
JV is running for senator under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). He decided to use the surname “Estrada” instead of “Ejercito” after the name change bolstered his ranking in the polls.
Estrada is the screen name of Jinggoy’s and JV’s father, the former President who was a movie action hero before going into politics. Estrada’s real last name is Ejercito.
Jinggoy was also a movie actor before he ran for the Senate and won in 2004.
Former President Estrada is running for mayor of Manila next year, challenging reelectionist Alfredo Lim.
If he makes it, JV will join Jinggoy as the second Estrada in the Senate. The brothers will work with siblings Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano if Alan Peter’s bid for reelection is successful. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s son, Cagayan Rep. Jackie Enrile, is also running for the Senate. If he is successful, there will be two Enriles in the chamber.
Jinggoy himself shared three years with his mother Loi in the Senate, where she served from 2001 to 2007.
Senate insiders said JV’s name change did not sit well with Jinggoy, who, for the longest time, was the only son of the former President using the name Estrada. His mother, Luisa “Loi” Ejercito, also used his father’s screen surname when she ran for the Senate and won in 2001.
“I have never been a party to what others regard as sibling rivalry… I am very upset and deeply hurt over… (JV’s) efforts to generate publicity… at my expense,” Jinggoy said.
Jinggoy admitted to a “tepid relationship” that he said “is perhaps understandable considering our family’s circumstances.”
Jinggoy and siblings Jackie and Jude are Estrada’s children by Loi, a psychiatrist whom the former President met while doing odd jobs at National Mental Hospital.
JV is Estrada’s only child by former movie starlet Guia Gomez, now the mayor of San Juan City. JV is often heard claiming he is Estrada’s favorite child.
San Juan has been an Ejercito-Estrada stronghold since 1970s, when the former President was its mayor. Jinggoy’s turn at the helm in the then San Juan town came in 1992 and he served up to 2001. JV took over in 2001 and served up to 2010.
Attached to Jinggoy’s statement to Senate reporters was a hard copy of the interview that JV gave during a visit to Bacolod City in late October.
The congressman was quoted as saying he expected his entry into the Senate “to be exciting,” as it could provide “a check and balance” in the chamber.
There was no explanation given for the remark.
An open book
JV also said his relationship with his older brother was “an open book” and that “the public knows [about] our rift.”
The congressman said although he and Jinggoy were “not buddy-buddy or textmates,” they were civil to each other at gatherings.
JV added that one of their father’s frustrations was that his two political heirs were not able to thresh things out even when they saw each other regularly during his incarceration for plunder.
The congressman said their common love for their father was the only reason no hostilities had erupted between them so far.
This early, Jinggoy preempted all expectations of fisticuffs or a full-blown word war over JV’s comments.
“Any statement insinuating hostility… is far-fetched and very unfortunate,” Jinggoy said.
“I admit that we may not agree and even argue on some social and political issues… (T)his does not mean that we have to be at each other’s throats at all times, though it seems that my brother thinks otherwise,” he said.
Jinggoy said JV should not expect his elder brother to initiate fireworks between them in case the congressman moves to his turf next year.
“If (JV) happens to be elected senator and there comes a time when there is something to point out (regarding) legislative work or sociopolitical concerns, I will carry out the task as a seasoned legislator and as a statesman considering that my brother is a younger colleague,” Jinggoy said.
The senator assured his brother that he can “rise above any petty and unjust remarks against me from my own brother.”
“I sincerely hope that as a senatorial aspirant who I look forward to being a colleague in the Senate, he can do the same,” Jinggoy said.
He said his father did not know about his issuing a statement to the press, but he expected him to talk to him and JV soon.