Clan of candidates

LAGUNA GOVERNOR Emilio Ramon ‘ER’ Ejercito never got to have the success in the film industry that was enjoyed by his uncle Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada. But in the May 2013 elections, he managed to beat his more famous uncle — their clan’s political patriarch — in at least one aspect: the amount of funds he poured into his election campaign.

Erap Estrada spent almost P2.2 million of his own money in his bid as mayor of Manila, according to documents submitted to the Commission on Elections. His nephew ER, son of the late character actor George Estregan (Estrada’s younger brother), bested that amount by at least P77,000.

In his Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE), ER declared a total of P4,101,586 in campaign expenditure, of which P1.1 million came from a donation. With no other declared donor or source of fund, the remaining P2,968,600 apparently came from ER’s personal funds.

ER’s wife Girlie Maita, meanwhile, said the entire P80,160.31 she spent on her Pagsanjan mayoralty campaign came from her own pockets.

Elections laws do not prohibit candidates from using their own money in the campaign. But when candidates report the use of personal funds, they must clearly have the resources to do so. The asset declaration of a re-electionist, for instance, must show proof that a candidate has the capacity to spend the amount he said he used.

In addition, candidates are required to declare all sources of funds used in the campaign, which include both donations and personal money. This is because certain persons and entities such as those who hold a public utility or a government contract, foreigners, and foreign corporations are not allowed to support a candidate financially.

The 2012 and latest available Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) of couple ER and Girlie Maita shows that they have no cash assets or any property readily convertible to cash. Yet they apparently used up a combined P3.04 million from their personal funds in the campaign.

The couple’s joint net worth, however, has remained at P107 million since 2010. Personal assets amounted to P15 million, of which P9.2 million consisted of cars, and P5.8 million in jewelry and home appliances.

Similarly, Guia Gomez, one of Erap Estrada’s mistresses, spent a total of P20.2 million in campaign-related activities even though her cash assets came up to only P9.1 million according to her 2012 SALN. Her personal properties nonetheless amounted to a total of P48.5 million.

According to Gomez, she covered her campaign expenditure (for San Juan City mayor) with a total of P238,898 in personal funds. She also donated P20 million to the senatorial campaign of her son by Erap Estrada, Joseph Victor ‘JV’ Ejercito.

By comparison, JV Ejercito said he used almost P2.3 million of his own money for his run for a Senate seat. He reported a net worth of P72.1 million upon assumption into office in June this year. This is lower by half a million from his declared net worth in 2012. JV Ejercito’s assets have likewise dipped from P150 million in 2012 to P148 million in 2013.

Expenditures Paid out of Personal Fund

At least two other members of the clan who ran for public office last May also said they used personal funds to add to their respective campaign coffers.

One was Janella V. Ejercito, Erap’s 23-year-old granddaughter by son Jose ‘Jinggoy’ Estrada, who ran and won as San Juan City councilor. Janella declared having used nearly P108,000 of her own money for her campaign, which saw her spending almost P50,000 for the printing and distribution of campaign materials such as tarpaulin, calendars, and flyers. After winning the seat, she declared a net worth of almost P17.4 million.

Another Ejercito who plunked down personal funds for her own public office bid was Jannah A. Ejercito, daughter of yet another Erap brother, film producer Jesse. Jannah, however, lost in the race to represent the lone district of San Juan. For this campaign, she spent P211,705.00 of her personal funds.

In her 2012 SALN, as former San Juan City Councilor, Jannah declared a net worth of P33 million, of which cash assets comprised P4 million.

The clan’s political patriarch, Erap Estrada, meanwhile, reported a net worth of P244.2 million with cash assets of P167 million. — PCIJ, September 2013