Ejercito: Zamoras used gov't funds to gather support for election recall

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 3) The battle for the top post in San Juan City continues, as Senator JV Ejercito hurls a new accusation against the Zamoras.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source on Wednesday, the senator claimed former Vice Mayor Francis Zamora used government funds to gather support for the petition to recall the election for the mayoral post in the city.

Ejercito made the allegation following the decision of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) on December 20 to approve the petition for a recall election.

Some 30,000 supporters signed the May 17 petition that stemmed from allegations of graft and corruption and abuse of authority against Gomez.

"Before they release medical assistance, burial assistance, scholarship, they make them sign the recall petition," Ejercito said.

He said Zamora, who lost to Gomez in the 2016 elections, attached his name to local government medical and educational programs. He said residents were made to sign the petition before availing of the services.

"We will use all of this as evidence that the way they were able to obtain the signatures, they used government funds," he added.

Although the COMELEC found the petition sufficient, Gomez has yet to receive notice, prompting Zamora to accuse her of hiding last December.


Ejercito said Zamora was "bullying" his mother, a three-term mayor, and went on to call his family's political rivals "unchristian."

"Do you think the Zamoras want to rule San Juan to serve the people or to protect their business interests?" said Ejercito.

Zamora and his father San Juan Rep. Ronny Zamora are rivals of the Estrada clan, of which Ejercito is part. The senator is the son of Gomez and former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph "Erap" Estrada.

The younger Zamora runs a Goldilocks branch in Greenhills, as well as a restaurant called District 8.

Zamora hits back

Zamora denied the accusations of Ejercito in a phone interview with CNN Philippines' Balitaan Wednesday.

He maintained that he drew support from his voters in the last election, where he lost to Gomez by 1,000 votes.

"Yung 30,000 po na pumirma, ito po 'yung taong sumuporta sa amin sa nakaraang halalan at idagdag na rin po rito ang ibang mga supporters ng Estrada na nagbago ang isip at tila naghahanap ng pagbabago sa San Juan," said Zamora.

"Alam ho ng mamayanan kung ano ang pinipirmahan nila."

[Translation: The 30,000 signatories come from our supporters in the last election on top of other Estrada supporters who have changed their minds and want change in San Juan... The people knew what they were signing up for.]

The former vice mayor said the programs Ejercito was referring to were for projects from his congressional district funds.

He said his father was "just doing his job," and he was tasked to assist as head of his father's district office.


"Ang aking tanong ko kay Senator JV, ganoon ba kababa ang tingin niya sa aming kapwa San Juaneño? Pirma lang ito sapagkat merong assistance?" he added.

[I ask Senator JV: Is that how low you think of San Juaneños willing to sign onto something in exchange for assistance?]

Zamora also refuted Ejercito's argument that his 75-year-old mother was sickly and could not be subject to stress.

"What we're talking about here is not age or gender... [but] capacity to serve as mayor," said Zamora. "Being a mayor of a city subjects you to physical, psychological, and emotional stress."

He added the people of San Juan deserve hands-on leadership.