MANILA, Philippines—Was there more than met the eye when Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada suddenly showed up Monday morning at a closed-door meeting between his sons, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito?
JV was supposed to pay a courtesy call on his older brother Jinggoy two weeks ago but the new senator sent word he had to attend another engagement.
JV is newly elected while Jinggoy was acting Senate President for more than six weeks until Monday morning when Sen. Franklin Drilon was voted the chamber’s new leader in its opening session.
Their father’s presence made the meeting more interesting since the two brothers are known to have a less than friendly relationship.
About 20 minutes into the brothers’ private talk, Mayor Estrada arrived with his wife, former Sen. Loi Ejercito.
“Senator Jinggoy said I have to be more prepared. The Senate is a different level compared to the House,” said JV, former representative of the lone district of San Juan City to reporters. He said I should make sure my privilege speeches don’t have loopholes (siguruhin mong walang butas).”
The neophyte senator described the atmosphere in the room as “relaxed” and “very cordial.”
JV said he was surprised that their father came to their meeting but he considered his presence “an added bonus.”
Mayor Estrada said he decided to crash the courtesy call since he was in the building anyway. Estrada and his wife, Loi, are former senators themselves who by tradition are invited to the Senate opening session before the President delivers his State of the Nation Address.
“You see, they’re trying to break the relationship between two brothers but blood is thicker than water,” the mayor said, refusing to identify the parties supposedly trying to drive a wedge between his sons.
Asked if he was confident his sons would heed what he told them during the meeting, the former president said: “Of course. If they don’t then I won’t talk to them.”
Just before Drilon was elected Senate President, he and former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile flanked JV Ejercito in one of the rows inside the session hall.
“If this doesn’t give you the jitters, I don’t know what will,” Ejercito said in a tweet.