JV backs Jinggoy, says brother telling the truth
MANILA - Brothers will be brothers.
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito on Friday said his half-brother, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, is telling the truth about pork barrel funds being given out as incentives to senators who voted for the conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Speaking to ANC's Headstart, Ejercito pointed out the statement of Senate President Franklin Drilon confirming that P50 million in pork barrel projects was made available to senators after Corona was impeached last year. He said Sen. Panfilo Lacson also confirmed the P50 million pork barrel distribution.
"[Lacson] was the first to confirm the 50 million supposedly bonus or whatever, incentive. Now it's Senate President Drilon who confirmed it. There is some truth to what he is saying. We have to look into the bottom of this," he said.
Estrada, who is facing plunder charges for alleged misuse of his pork barrel allocations, has accused other senators of also pocketing their priority development assistance fund allocations. He also branded as selective justice the investigation on himself and fellow minority senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla.
In the interview, Ejercito said that despite his rift with Estrada, he is saddened by the situation faced by his half-brother.
"Of course it's difficult. It's been an open book you know, our rift from before but you know of course a brother is still a brother and I still feel very bad or sad about his predicament," he said.
He added: "We must remember also that since I got elected as a senator I am already accountable to the people as well. So rest assured that when the time comes, when I have to make the right decision, I have to factor in and give weight of course to my being accountable to the people."
Ejercito refused to comment when asked if he believes the accusations against his brother. He said the plunder and malversation cases against his brother and 37 others are already with the Ombudsman.
"My brother can defend himself and since cases were filed already, It's better that I do not say anything about it. I think he can defend himself regarding these accusations," he said.
He also said he has not spoken to Estrada since the pork scam came out, admitting that he and his half-brother are still not close.
"We are still not close but he knows that I am very supportive of him in my own little way. I bring out the issues that he wants me to bring out in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee," he said.
"These are the times that we need to stand by our colleagues no matter what their situation and predicament. I think my brother and my friend Bong whatever the situation is we give them moral support as a friend and as a family," he added.
Ejercito said one issue not being given enough attention in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry on the pork scam is the fact that there are other "operators" in Congress who get funds of lawmakers.
He said the Commission on Audit special audit focused too much on the 8 non-government organizations linked to businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles. The Napoles NGOs received nearly P2 billion in pork barrel allocations from 2007-2009, according to COA.
"I think the people need to know the whole truth. We don't have to limit it to the Napoles NGOs. I do believe that there's not only one Janet Napoles operating. I believe there are other operators likewise operating. We have to find out and put a stop to this scandal," he said.
The senator also criticized the alleged effort to persecute members of the Ejercito clan who are in office. Aside from the plunder case against Jinggoy, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada is also facing a disqualification case before the Supreme Court while his cousin, Laguna Gov. ER Ejercito, was disqualified by the Commission on Elections First Division for violating election spending laws.