Can Jalosjos be a qualified voter? PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 13:52

“I can be a voter and can be voted upon under the law.”

This was the reply of mayoral candidate Romeo Jalosjos to a possible petition to be filed against him by certain political personalities before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) questioning his qualification as a voter.

A highly-reliable source said the petition, set to be filed on or before July 9, seeks to disqualify Jalosjos as a voter on account of the perpetual absolute disqualification imposed by the Revised Penal Code which is attached to his sentence of two counts of “reclusion perpetua.”

The case: In 1997, Jalosjos was sentenced to two life terms for statutory rape and an additional eight to 15 years for each of the six counts of acts of lasciviousness. In 1998, he won as representative of Zamboanga del Norte. The Department of Justice (DOJ) allowed him to take his oath of office in prison, but the Commission on Elections barred him from attending sessions of the House of Representatives.

Jalosjos was re-elected in 2001, but was dropped from the rolls of the House the following year after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction with finality.   

In June of 2007, then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo commuted Jalosjos’ prison term to 16 years. The commutation order was signed on April 30, 2007 and received by the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) a month later.

By computation of penitentiary officials, Jalosjos was to be released on Dec. 16, 2007. On the same day, Pres. Arroyo ordered then DOJ Secretary Raul Gonzalez to advise NBP officials to keep Jalosjos in jail.

Upon review by the DOJ of the commuted sentence, Gonzalez said that based on the recomputation, Jalosjos was eligible for release on April, 2009. However, on Dec. 22, 2007, Jalosjos flew to Dapitan City. He was rearrested the following day and taken to the San Ramon Colony and Penal Farm in this city.

Crying “unlawful detention,” Jalosjos filed a petition for “writ of habeas corpus” with the Regional Trial Court. The petition was, however, denied and he was flown back to Muntinlupa on Jan. 4, 2008.

He was subsequently released from prison in March, 2009.

Under section 118, paragraph (b) of the Omnibus Election Code, as amended, it is stated that “any person who has been sentenced by final judgment to suffer imprisonment for not less than one year, such a disability not having been removed by plenary pardon or granted amnesty, provided, however, that any person disqualified to vote shall automatically reacquire the right to vote upon expiration of five years after service of sentence.”

Counting back 2009, Jalosjos can only reacquire his right to vote by 2014. For any person to be a qualified candidate for any elective position, he must first be a qualified voter.

Upon filing of the contestation, the Comelec has 10 days to decide the case.

Through one of his spokespersons who has asked anonymity, Jalosjos said that such a petition, if filed, “is a desperate move.”

He said that he is ready to face and fight any moves to disqualify him all the way to the Supreme Court.

Mr. Jalosjos insists that he is a qualified voter and can be voted upon,” the spokesman added.

Meanwhile, Jalosjos is expected to unveil his council slates for the two congressional districts on Saturday, July 7.

He previously announced his candidacy for mayor and revealed that his running mate will be his second cousin Mercy Arquiza. His congressional candidate for the first district is Councilor Mel Sadain and former Vice Mayor Mannix Dalipe his candidate for congressman for the second district. — BJ