MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito is not as consistent as Senator Binay in sticking to the opposition’s line. Ejercito sometimes surprised allies and the public.
Citing accountability to voters, he signed the committee report recommending plunder charges against his half-brother Senator Estrada. With JV’s long-running rivalry with Jinggoy, the decision was both shocking and expected.
Ejercito’s close ally requesting anonymity told Rappler, “It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If he signs, Jinggoy will get mad. If he doesn’t, it’s public opinion he’ll face.”
Another revelation was when the 4th Estrada in the Senate reversed his campaign stand and suddenly filed an anti-political dynasty bill but with a limited definition. The senator who used his father former President Joseph Estrada’s last name during the election now says, “Power should not be held by just a few.”
In other issues, the former San Juan mayor and representative is still aligned with the minority like in opposing the RH law, and questioning the conditional cash transfer program. He also called for an inquiry into the administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which he rejected as illegal.
Candid but at times sensitive, Ejercito infamously called a Twitter user “Ungas! Duwag!” for criticizing his questions in a PDAF hearing. When the direct message was made public, he apologized to his followers for the outburst.
Among neophytes, Ejercito filed the most number of bills at 118. These include a bill requiring the installation of speed limiters on public buses to avoid accidents, exempting petroleum products from value added tax, Tuition Fee Rationalization bill, SK reform, FOI, and a bill amending the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to prohibit cross-ownership in power generation and distribution.
He also supports reopening the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, and rehabilitating the Agus-Pulangi hydropower plants in Mindanao to address the power problem.
Filomeno Sta. Ana III, coordinator of the policy advocacy group Action for Economic Reforms (AER), said Ejercito tends to be sensible but populist, and has to think through his proposals more. He cited the senator’s bill classifying rice smuggling as economic sabotage and imposing heavier penalties.
“Rice smuggling is bad and we have to go after smugglers. The question is why does it thrive? The next question, is that the best solution? You’re not sure. It can be enforcement. You have to first address why it thrives. He has good intentions but he might not be aware of some consequences of his positions,” Sta. Ana said. – Rappler.com