6 San Juan councilors leave Estrada party to back Zamora
MANILA, Philippines — San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora now has the support of the majority in the city council, clearing what appears to be the last potential roadblock to the implementation of his sweeping agenda.
After a series of talks, four city councilors and the heads of the Sangguniang Kabataan and Liga ng mga Barangay decided to leave the camp of the Ejercito-Estradas, who had dominated San Juan politics for 50 years.
“Now that we have a majority council, we can expect that we will be able to deliver all our plans and programs for the next three years. I don’t see any hindrance anymore,” Zamora told the Inquirer.
During the midterm elections, his Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party mates failed to ride on the coattails of his resounding victory, winning only three councilor seats despite sweeping the city’s top posts.
Councilors Boyet Aquino, Ariel Atad, Herbert Chua, Raissa Laurel, Vincent Pacheco and Kit Peralta now form the majority bloc with the three original PDP-Laban councilors: Paul Artadi, Totoy Bernardo and Bea de Guzman.
Five city councilors who won under the Ejercito-Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino party did not defect to the PDP-Laban, among them Jana Ejercito—the niece of former President Joseph Estrada and the lone family member who won in the midterm polls.
Zamora claimed San Juan residents would monitor the way the five minority councilors vote, saying “they cannot vote against something that is good for the city.”
While party defections are par for the course in Philippine politics, it still marked a sea change in the political landscape of San Juan, which for decades had backed the Ejercito-Estradas.
But in the recent elections, Zamora handily defeated his rival for the mayorship, Janella Ejercito Estrada, while former San Juan Mayor Jinggoy Estrada was not among the city’s top 12 choices for senator. —Matthew Reysio-Cruz
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