OZAMIZ CITY—Convicts are barred from seeking elective positions.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) made this ruling on the candidacies of Jalosjos brothers Romeo Sr. and Dominador Jr., citing a law that disqualifies convicts from running for elective posts.
Romeo Sr. is a child rape convict while Dominador Jr. has been convicted of robbery.
Romeo Sr. is seeking to run for mayor of Zamboanga City while Dominador Jr. is seeking to run for governor of Zamboanga del Sur.
In separate rulings on the brothers Jalosjos last Jan. 15, the Comelec said it is duty-bound to declare the two disqualified even “without a petition” because of the Jalosjos brothers’ criminal convictions.
Romeo Sr. is a convicted child rapist who has been released from jail due to good behavior while Dominador Jr. is a robbery convict. Both convictions had been affirmed by the Supreme Court.
In the case of Romeo Sr., his 1997 conviction for statutory rape was upheld by the High Court in 2001 while Dominador’s conviction by a lower court was affirmed in October last year.
“The commission is under legal duty to abide by the final judgment issued by the judiciary,” said the Comelec decisions.
It said under the Omnibus Election Code, “the final judgment of conviction is notice to the Comelec of the disqualification of the convict from running for public office.”
No pardon, no rights
Unless granted absolute pardon by the President, persons convicted of criminal offenses cannot even vote.
In the case of Romeo Sr., the Comelec also noted a regional trial court decision denying his petition for inclusion on the voters’ list of Zamboanga City, “which is deemed final and executory.”
The Comelec ruling on the candidacy of the Jalosjos siblings proved to be a major setback to the former lawmaker’s ambitious plan to expand his political influence to the rest of the Zamboanga peninsula.
The Zamboanga peninsula, or Western Mindanao region, is made up of the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay and the city of Zamboanga.
Originally based in Zamboanga del Norte, the Jalosjoses’ appetite for political expansion started when they and their allies routed and dislodged the Hofer clan from power in Zamboanga Sibugay during the 2010 general elections.
Romeo’s son, Rommel, is currently Zamboanga Sibugay governor. Another son, Romeo Jr., is representative of the second congressional district of the province.
His daughter, Svetlana, is currently mayor of Baliangao town in Misamis Occidental which is geographically part of Zamboanga peninsula but is under the political jurisdiction of Northern Mindanao.
Svetlana’s bid for the gubernatorial post of Misamis Occidental had been announced but called off.
In parts of Western Mindanao, politicians allied with the Jalosjoses also occupy various elective posts or had filed certificates of candidacy to run in the May elections. Ryan Rosauro, Inquirer Mindanao