MANILA, Philippines ? A presidential pardon does not necessarily restore a convicted person?s rights to vote and to hold public office, according to the Revised Penal Code.
Article 36 of the law states that these political rights shall be restored only if the terms of the pardon expressly say so.
A presidential pardon remits punishment to a person convicted by final judgment. It condones infractions of the peace of the state.
But it does not exempt the grantee from payment of the civil indemnity imposed by the sentence.
The Philippine penal code states that conviction by final judgment entails ?suspension from public office and the right to vote and be voted for.?
Romeo Jalosjos?who was sentenced in 1997 to two life terms for statutory rape and an additional eight to 15 years for each of the six counts of acts of lasciviousness committed against an 11-year-old girl in 1996?was twice able to run for public office while in prison because he had yet to be convicted with finality by the Supreme Court at the time.
Jalosjos won as representative of Zamboanga del Norte in 1998. The Department of Justice allowed him to take his oath of office in prison, but the Commission on Elections ruled that he could not attend sessions of the House of Representatives.
He was reelected in 2001, but was dropped from the list of House members the following year after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction with finality.
In June 2007, Malacañang announced that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had commuted Jalosjos? prison term to 16 years, three months and three days.
The commutation order was signed on April 30, 2007, and received by the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City a month later.
Computations by penitentiary officials showed that Jalosjos could be released on Dec. 16, 2007.
On that day, however, an ?upset? Ms Arroyo ordered then Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez to tell NBP officials that Jalosjos must remain in jail.
Gonzalez told the media that the Department of Justice was still reviewing Jalosjos? case, and that based on his initial ?recomputation,? the man was eligible for release in April 2009.
But Jalosjos defied the Palace order and flew to Dapitan on a private plane on Dec. 22, 2007. He was arrested the following morning and taken to the San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm Colony.
Crying unlawful detention, Jalosjos filed a petition for the writ of habeas corpus at the Zamboanga Regional Trial Court. The petition was denied, and he was flown back to Muntinlupa on Jan. 4, 2008.
Jalosjos was released from prison in March. Cyril L. Bonabente and Eliza Victoria, Inquirer Research
Sources: Inquirer Archives, www.chanrobles.com