SAN Juan City (Metro Manila) Mayor Guia Gomez on Saturday refuted the claim of the Zamoras, once political allies and now rivals, that the Estradas and the Ejercitos have been lording it over San Juan since 1969.
She described her critic’s flawed arithmetic saying the Estradas have been in power for 46 continuous years in the city as a historical lie aimed at destroying other people’s track record while advancing one’s political ambition.
Gomez, a partner of former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada, and mother of Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, is running for her third and final term as mayor. Her rival in the May 9 elections is Vice Mayor Francis Zamora, a son of House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora, who once served as executive secretary during the Estrada administration.
She refused to identify who among the Zamoras made the statement in a recent interview but noted that he deliberately omitted the terms of officer-in-charge Mayor Reynaldo San Pascual in 1986 and the election in 1988 as Mayor of Adolfo Santo Domingo—a total of six years.
“If an aspirant for the top post in the local government can lie through the skin of his teeth in such dubious manner, what guarantee will San Juaneños get that there would be sincerity and honesty in the person’s style of governance?” Gomez asked.
She explained that then-San Juan mayor Joseph Estrada stayed in his post for 17 years because then-President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972 and there were no elections for some time.
The emergency situation enabled many local officials, including those in San Juan, to stay in power until the Church-backed EDSA Revolution ousted Marcos in 1986.
“The people of San Juan voted [Jinggoy] Estrada into power for three terms and JV for a similar three terms, suggesting that democracy, with people participating in the elections, is vibrant in San Juan,” Gomez said.
“Mayor Erap, Mayor Jinggoy and Mayor JV worked hard on different projects – the record is public – which endeared them to the San Juaneños, who would have booted them out if they were just counting sheep in the comfort of their offices,” the mayor added.
Gomez identified some of these projects as the Pinaglabanan Shrine, the San Juan Municipal High School, the first Agora Market in the country, the Taytay Resettlement Area, the San Juan Medical Center, the San Juan Gym, the San Juan Arena, the transformation into a city of San Juan in 2008, and the first public tertiary school in San Juan, the Polytechnic University-San Juan.
In the time of Mayor JV Ejercito, she said San Juan metamorphosed into a “most progressive municipality” and “best fiscally managed municipality.”
The rift started last year when the Zamoras accused the Estradas of dumping them to give way to Councilor Janella Estrada, a daughter of Jinggoy, and Jana Ejercito, a cousin of Jinggoy and JV.
Janella is the running mate of Mayor Gomez, while Jana is running for Congress against the older Zamora, who is seeking his last term as San Juan City representative.
NEIL A. ALCOBER