JV Ejercito: 'The Force' better off outside PDP-Laban

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 2) — Senators up for re-election in 2019 are better off excluded from the line-up of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), Senator JV Ejercito said on Monday.

Ejercito said he got a go signal from his father, former President now Manila Mayor Joseph "Erap" Estrada, to join the administration party — but he has since changed his mind.

"I was willing to, but now I'm happy already not to join PDP. I think we're better off in 'The Force,'" Ejercito told CNN Philippines' The Source.

'The Force' is a collective name for five senators up for re-election. They are Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Ejercito, Grace Poe, and Cynthia Villar.

Senate President Koko Pimentel and Senator Bam Aquino are also up for re-election, but they will run under the administration and opposition slates, respectively.

Asked how they would respond to a possible invite for adoption by PDP-Laban, Ejercito answered, "Well thank you, but I think we are already happy as 'The Force'... We're quite contented knowing we will be campaigning and sticking together no matter what."

The senator admitted he and other senators felt "alienated" from the ruling party, especially as they offered support to the administration's policies like martial law in Mindanao and tax reform.

"We felt bad because we have been very supportive of the administration, especially vital pieces of legislation or anything that the President would need," said Ejercito.

Asked if he was offended to be left out of the PDP-Laban line-up, he answered, "I have to be honest with you: of course."

"We've been supportive not only of the President, [but] the Senate President as well-his leadership," Ejercito added.

However, he also said there was "no compelling reason" to oust Pimentel as the Senate President as he had offered his support to "The Force."

The senators were also in talks with Davao City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte, who founded a new regional political party called Hugpong ng Pagbabago.

"One option is for them to adopt 'The Force' as their senatorial candidates," said Ejercito. "At least nagkaroon kami ng [we have an] avenue, because we're supportive of the President but we are not liked by the PDP."

Apart from Pimentel, PDP-Laban's senatorial line-up includes Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, Maguindanao Representative Zajid Mangudadatu, Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, political adviser to the President Francis Tolentino, and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rey Umali.

Watch the full interview with Ejercito on The Source h