MANILA, Philippines—The sibling rivalry between Senate President Jinggoy Estrada and his half-brother Sen. JV Ejercito continues to rear its ugly head way before the start of the 16th Congress.
On Thursday afternoon, Estrada expected Ejercito to pay him a courtesy call at the Senate but the neophyte senator opted to attend to another engagement.
“I thought he was already proceeding to the Senate together with Sen. Nancy (Binay),” Estrada told reporters, who were expecting a cordial meeting between the two brothers, who are known to be less than affectionate with each other.
Estrada, Ejercito and other senators who are expected to compose the minority in the next Congress, met over lunch at Vice President Jejomar Binay’s office at the Coconut Palace at noontime before the supposed meeting between the sons of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
“I was expecting him to come over but I received word that there is an equally important thing to do,” Estrada said.
Asked if he felt slighted, Estrada said, “That’s the way it is. Wala tayong magagawa. OK lang (We can’t do anything. It’s OK).”
“I just asked him before I boarded my car [from the Coconut Palace meeting] if he was coming over. He said he would follow with Senator Nancy. I thought he was coming over,” Estrada said.
“I received word from one of my staff that he had another appointment,” he added.
A member of Ejercito’s staff said the meeting between the neophyte senator and Estrada was to happen on or before the day of President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address on July 22. The source said Ejercito will be prepared to explain what transpired Thursday by then.
Asked if he could still meet his brother on the eve of the start of the 16th Congress next week, Estrada said, “Well… we would already have a toxic schedule next week. We would already be busy because July 22 is already drawing near.”
Interestingly, the two brothers may find themselves seated beside each other with the Senate’s alphabetical seating arrangement, should they both use their real surname.
Estrada and Ejercito are expected to both be in the Senate minority that will presumptively be led by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.
Other senators, who are expected to be part of the Senate minority, include senators Vicente Sotto III, Gregorio Honasan and neophyte Nancy Binay.