Senate minority caught between warring brothers

Posted at 08/12/14 6:11 PM

MANILA - Senator Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito confirmed Tuesday that members of the Senate minority are being careful about his ongoing spat with half-brother, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.

On Monday, Estrada said Ejercito had no authority to deliver a speech countering the State of the Nation Address of President Aquino.

In response, Ejercito said he received the blessing of no less than Senate Minority Juan Ponce Enrile when he visited the latter last week.

"I asked him: 'Sir, do you think there is a need to deliver a contra-SONA. It has been four years and no one has delivered a contra-SONA.' Sabi niya: 'Oo. Tama. Dapat lang,'" the senator said in an ANC interview.

Ejercito said he prepared a draft of his speech and showed it to Enrile, who gave a lot of input.

He said he also gave copies of his speech to Senators Vicente Sotto III, Nancy Binay and Gregorio Honasan. He said the minority senators gave their own input during a caucus led by no less than Vice-President Jejomar Binay.

"Even Vice President Binay had inputs to my SONA, last minute," he said.

Ejercito said he understands that some minority senators are being careful about what they are saying when it comes to his spat with Jinggoy.

"May pinagsamahan na rin sila. Mas matagal sila. They don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. They probably wanted to stay in the middle," he said.

He also said that he plans to visit his half-brother soon but only after things have quieted down. Estrada is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame on plunder and graft charges in connection with the P10 billion pork barrel scam.

"I will visit when I feel it is the right time to do so because I don't want to visit him in his present condition when he doesn't want to see me. Probably when the dust has settled," he said.

Ejercito admitted the animosity between him and Jinggoy was revived after he signed a Senate blue ribbon committee report recommending the filing of charges against three senators linked to the scam.

He also blamed local politics for feeding the animosity between him and Jinggoy.

"Even if we don't get along well, I am still hoping that at some point in time we will get close. We became close when my father was incarcerated but it turned sour again when I entered politics. That aggravated the situation," he said.