Press Release
November 7, 2016

A Privilege Speech by Senator JV Ejercito
7 November 2016

Mr. President, dear colleagues, mga minamahal kong kababayan:

When I decided to enter politics in 2001, I was fully aware of the tremendous challenges that public service presented. I knew politics can be dirty. I knew that carrying the Estrada name can be an advantage or an invitation to undue scrutiny.

And so, as I prepared to enter politics, I promised to myself that I will serve the people, especially the disadvantaged, with all my heart and to the best of my abilities. I was a man on a mission to bring back the trust in the name after the events in 2001.

I spent my formative years in a Jesuit institution. Just like my friend, Senator Sonny Angara, I was shaped by the teachings of the Xavier School in becoming "a man for others."

I would like to think that this formation helped instill in me a deep commitment to social justice and the dedication to serve others.

Today, as I stand before the halls of this hallowed chamber, as a Senator of the Republic of the Philippines, having also served for three consecutive terms as Mayor of San Juan City, and as Representative of its lone district from 2010 to 2013, I am proud to say that I kept those promises and that I never strayed from those principles and ideals.

I believe that, for three consecutive terms, I have served the people of San Juan City well. Under my leadership and with the support of the people of San Juan, we were able to increase its annual revenue from P300 million when I was first elected into office, to P1.2 billion when I finished my third term. The economic boom in San Juan was largely due to the increase in investments and improvement of local businesses as a result of confidence and trust in the leadership of the local government.

I still can say, I have kept on with the good fight, I have kept the faith, but I am not yet done. There is still a long race ahead to help lead our people out of poverty that plagues our land.

As many of you know, part of the attempt to tarnish my track record includes two cases now pending before the Sandiganbayan over the P2.1 million worth of firearms purchased for our police force.

The alleged anomalous transaction is anomalous only to the malicious minds and ill intent of my political adversaries. It must be remembered that there was a crime wave in San Juan City as well as the entire Metro Manila some time while I was Mayor, and as the father of the City, I had to act decisively.

If I will be imprisoned for fighting crime and protecting the lives of my constituents, so be it! Faced with a similar situation, I will not hesitate to do it again! It was my duty and responsibility as Mayor and father of the city to protect the welfare and lives of my people.

I will not discuss the details of this case today but allow me to say, in no uncertain terms, that I have never benefitted from any transaction in my years as a public servant.

I have tried my best to keep my name clean, in fact there is no blemish on my track record as a public servant until this case progressed to my surprise. I was extra careful while I was Mayor and as Congressman since I was one of the faces of the opposition back then during GMA's administration. One wrong move and for sure, I will be in trouble.

As part of the legal process, the Sandiganbayan has ordered my preventive suspension as a duly-elected Senator of the Philippines. I would like to emphasize here that preventive suspension is not punitive and has no bearing whatsoever in determining the guilt of an accused.

Mr. President, colleagues, my fellow Filipinos:

Tomorrow, I will voluntarily start serving this 90-day suspension.

I will do so because I respect the rule of law. I believe in the fairness and probity of the Sandiganbayan as an institution.

And as a law-abiding citizen, I submit to the authority of the Supreme Court, which recently denied our motion questioning the suspension order.

I will do so despite the fact that the issue on what to do with the suspension order is still being studied by the Senate Committee on Rules, which is within our prerogative as a co-equal branch of government.

I will do so cognizant of the support of the honorable Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III, and my esteemed colleagues in this chamber.

I will do so despite the fact that serving the suspension will deny the Filipino people of representation and public service.

I will do so because I wish to spare the Senate and my colleagues the unnecessary distraction from the important work that we do here.

We face many serious challenges in our country, Mr. President, and we cannot afford to get entangled in a legal conflict with a co-equal branch of government.

I will temporarily leave my position as Senator, but I will continue my advocacies in my private capacity because I believe that serving the people can still be done outside of government.

Mr. President, amidst all the materialism of modern life, it is our reputation, our character, our legacy in this world that matter the most. This is the reason why I worked so hard to make sure that my track record remains unblemished.

I have two sons, and I want them to know the virtue of public service and that their father always has the welfare of the public in mind when I am entrusted by the people with a mandate. You can hold on to that covenant of your father.

When I return after 90 days, I will work doubly hard in order to recover lost time. I will return with increased determination to perform the tasks expected of me as a Senator of the Republic. I will return with renewed passion to prove my innocence and to fight those whose only job is to besmirch my name.

When faced with difficulties in life, I am always reminded of the words of Mahatma Gandhi:

"I shall not fear anyone on Earth.

I shall fear only God.

I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.

I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.

I shall conquer untruth by truth.

And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering."

Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat na patuloy na sumusuporta sa akin at sa ating mga adhikain.

Thank you very much my dear colleagues for supporting and believing in me.

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