I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
MANILA, Philippines—Sen. JV Ejercito will decide according to his conscience—not according to family or party loyalty—when he would have to choose whether to sign the Senate blue ribbon committee report that found his half-brother, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, one of those liable for plunder in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
In a radio interview over the weekend, Ejercito indicated he would do the same thing when the Senate puts to a vote whether to discipline—either suspend or expel—its three members who are facing plunder charges in connection with the massive fraud.
“I’m sad. We share the same blood. He’s my brother. But then again, as I have said, even though I have a responsibility to my family, I also have a responsibility to my colleagues and I am also accountable to our countrymen who voted for me,” Ejercito said over dwIZ.
“Perhaps, I will give more weight to my accountability [to the people],” he said.
Ejercito said, however, that he had yet to see a copy of the 122-page draft committee report that found Estrada, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and
Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. liable for plunder in connection with their alleged involvement in the scam allegedly masterminded by Janet Lim-Napoles.
The Office of the Ombudsman has also announced that it has found probable cause to charge the three in the Sandiganbayan antigraft court.
“At this point, we aren’t the ones who will decide this case. The true judges in this case, the ones who will give the verdict, will be the [justices of the] Sandiganbayan,” Ejercito said.
Enrile, Estrada and Ejercito are members of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, the party founded by former President and incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, the father of both Ejercito and Estrada.
Asked if he would vote in favor of the Senate disciplining Estrada, Enrile and Revilla, Ejercito said, “I’ve yet to decide because we’re still not at that point.”
“But as I have said, I will give more importance to my responsibility as a senator of our country because somehow, millions voted for me and gave me their trust,” he said.
“Our countrymen voted for me; that’s why I cannot turn my back on the trust the people gave me,” he added.
On the current state of the Senate minority, Ejercito said, “I have to be honest with you. The minority is now really crippled.”
“It’s unlike during the start [of the 16th Congress in the middle of 2013] when we always had meetings. There was a caucus every week. Now, it’s rather rare,” Ejercito said.
“It’s understandable because many of our colleagues have cases or are involved in this case. We understand that they also have to attend to their individual cases,” he added.
Aside from Enrile, the minority floor leader, Estrada and Ejercito, the other members of the Senate minority are Deputy Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Gregorio Honasan and Nancy Binay.
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