SANTA CRUZ, Laguna: Former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada on Friday convinced his nephew, disqualified Laguna governor ER Ejercito, to leave the provincial capitol and let his successor take over.
Disqualified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on election overspending charges, Ejercito had been holding out in his office at the capitol, refusing to give up his post to Vice Governor Ramil Hernandez.
Ejercito had not left the capitol, which was surrounded by his supporters, since Tuesday, when the Comelec swore in Hernandez as the new governor. He vowed to hold out until the Supreme Court decides on his petition contesting the Comelec ruling.
On Friday morning, Estrada arrived in Santa Cruz by helicopter. He greeted Ejercito’s supporters before proceeding to the governor’s office, where he had a closed-door meeting with Ejercito.
After about 20 minutes, the two emerged, and Ejercito announced that his uncle had convinced him to leave the capitol while awaiting for the Supreme Court decision on his case.
Ejercito told his supporters not to despair. “Kahit na wala na po ako sa pwesto, ako ay magiging gubernador ninyo ngayon at magpakailanman. Antayin po ang pagbabalik ng agila! [Even if I have been forced out of office, I will be forever your governor. Wait for the eagle’s return!),” he told the crowd.
Estrada and Ejercito left together for the family’s ancestral home in Pagsanjan City.
Arriving in Pagsanjan, Ejercito told The Manila Times that he plans to watch the sci-fi action film “X-Men: Days of Future Past” later.
Like Estrada, Ejercito is a movie actor, with the screen name Jeorge Ejercito. He has portrayed such notorious gangland characters as Asiong Salonga and Boy Golden.
The Comelec said Ejercito spent P23.5 million during the 2013 elections, way beyond the legal limit of P4.5 million.
After serving the writ of execution to Ejercito on Thursday, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) directed government agencies in Laguna to recognize Hernandez as the new governor.
Unable to set foot in the provincial capitol, Hernandez set up office at a nearby sports complex.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. had said he will not force Ejercito out of the capitol as long as he does not carry out the functions of a governor.
Ejercito requested the Comelec and DILG that he be allowed to stay in the governor’s office for several days while waiting for the Supreme Court decision.
Estrada said he wanted Ejercito to step down “in the interest of peace and order in the province.”
He, however, criticized the Comelec decision, saying his nephew had been singled out since almost all politicians overspend for their campaigns.