Ex-con Jalosjos seeks Zamboanga City mayorshipBy Julie S. Alipala
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – A few minutes before noon Friday, former Zamboanga del Norte Representative Romeo Jalosjos and his entire slate under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), trooped to local elections office and filed their respective certificates of candidacy.
Flanked by members of his ticket, Jalosjos then raised his COC for the mayoral, clearly stamped and signed accepted by election supervisor Joseph Ian Tria.
Jalosjos later told reporters he was very happy he was able to file his documents at the local office of the Commission on Elections.
“So I suppose there is reason to celebrate. We’ve achieved our first step,” he said.
Jalojos said he felt frustrated a few days ago “because of early problems, because they [opponents] were trying to block me through propaganda, they would not allow me to file.”
The Comelec trashed Jalosjos’ application to register as a voter in Barangay Tetuan here, where he has been residing for some time now.
Tria said the Comelec denied Jolosjos’ voter registration bid because of his statutory rape conviction.
“We are not questioning his residency. The board decided to disapprove his application based on section 11-a of Republic Act 8189,” said Tria, who also chairs the 2nd district’s election registration board.
Under the law, Tria said, a person who has been sentenced to more than a year of imprisonment may exercise his right to vote only five years after serving his sentence. Jalosjos was freed in March 2009 after completing a commuted sentence for the rape of an 11-year old girl.
“He can vote five years after serving his sentence,” Tria said.
Under the law, a convict is also disqualified to seek public office for life unless granted absolute pardon.
In Jalosjos’ case, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo only commuted his sentence to 11 years.
Jalosjos raised the issue of his voting right to the Supreme Court where the case is still pending.
Jalosjos’ lawyer Giovanni Luistro, who was grinning from ear to ear after his client’s COC was accepted by the Comelec office here, said: “Other parties kept saying weeks ago that we could not file due to certain issues. Now we proved them wrong; the COC was received by an election officer.”
“We are just waiting for the result of the court decision,” he added.
Tria said his office could not do anything but accept Jalosjos’ COC as its role was purely ministerial.
“We are not in the position to reject [Jalosjos’] COC because it’s only the national office who will decide on it,” Tria said.
Jalosjos is running against 1st District Representative Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar and 2nd district Rep. Erico Basilio Fabian.
Mayor Celso Lobregat, who is on his final term, was said to be seeking the post that Climaco-Salazar holds now but he had not filed his COC as of Friday afternoon.