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Inquirer Mindanao
Jalosjos: Zamboanga’s new kingpin

By Ryan Rosauro
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:32:00 05/15/2010

Filed Under: Politics, Elections

CONVICTED CHILD rapist and former Rep. Romeo Jalosjos Sr. has emerged as the new political kingpin in the Zamboanga Peninsula, expanding his dominion from Zamboanga del Norte to two neighboring provinces? and perhaps, more.

Jalosjos widened his influence to Zamboanga Sibugay by winning the proxy war against the Hofer political dynasty through his candidate-sons and allies.

On Thursday morning, the Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBOC) in Zamboanga Sibugay proclaimed Rommel Jalosjos as governor amid disqualification charges leveled against his candidacy. His opponent was Rep. Dulce Ann Hofer, daughter of the incumbent governor and Hofer patriarch, George Sr.

Rommel will replace George Sr., who opted to run for mayor in the capital town of Ipil but lost to a newfound Jalosjos ally, reelectionist Mayor Eldwin Alibutdan. George Sr.?s running mate, Jose Tiu, also succumbed to another Jalosjos ally.

Romeo Jalosjos Jr., more known as Jon-jon, bagged the congressional seat in the second district in a tightly fought race against Hofer?s son, George II.

Rommel and Romeo Jr. face disqualification cases.

George Hofer Sr. and Tiu are among the pioneers in the movement to create the new province of Zamboanga Sibugay out of the then third legislative district of Zamboanga del Sur.

Then a representative, Hofer authored the law creating Zamboanga Sibugay in 2001 and was elected its first governor. His daughter, Dulce Ann, followed in his political footsteps by becoming a representative in the second district, while his son, George II, served as provincial administrator.

The Jalosjos camp drew strength in Zamboanga Sibugay from an alliance with the family of outgoing Rep. Belma Cabilao, whose relative, Jonathan Yambao, is taking over the congressional seat in the first district.

Another alliance is with the Ipil-based Olegario family. One of its members, Rey Andre, is taking the vice gubernatorial post while Anamel earned the vice mayoral post of Ipil.

Moreover, nine of 10 elected members of the provincial legislative board are aligned with the Jalosjos camp.

The rout suffered by the Hofers mainly signaled the beginning of another dynasty in Zamboanga Sibugay.

Home court

Jalosjos? relatives and minions dominated the electoral races in most localities in his home province of Zamboanga del Norte.

His younger brother and look-alike, incumbent Mayor Dominador Jalosjos of the capital city of Dapitan, was reelected despite a disqualification case also filed against him.

The mayor?s son, Seth, is taking the congressional seat in the first district, while a brother, Cesar, will retain the seat in the third district.

A sister, Cecilia Jalosjos Carreon, a three-term representative of the first district, is taking over as mayor of Piñan town, where her family is based.

Lawyer Rolando Yebes, a retired Customs official who is also a Jalosjos ally, was reelected governor despite the strong challenge of former Gov. Isagani Amatong. Yebes? son, Ronald, however, failed to dislodge Rep. Rosendo Labadlabad from his post in the second district.

In many localities, except in Dipolog and Jose Dalman town, the top elective posts are mostly held by Jalosjos allies.

Inroads

Jalosjos, whose life sentence was commuted by President Macapagal-Arroyo leading to his early release from the national penitentiary, also made inroads into Misamis Occidental politics.

His daughter, Svetlana, won as mayor of the impoverished and sleepy town of Baliangao town, edging Agne Yap Sr. by only six votes. An artist, Svetlana currently runs the family?s entertainment venture Fantasyland in Dapitan.

Svetlana?s foray into politics was largely helped by an alliance with other members of the Yap brood, who were disgruntled by an unrealized power-sharing agreements within the family.

Jalosjos began his proxy battles against the Baliangao-based Yaps in 1992 during the mayoral contest in Rizal town in Zamboanga del Norte. He has been backing the Cebedo family in Rizal, which borders Sapang Dalaga town where the Yaps also held power.

Monday?s polls saw a Cebedo family ally?and presumably a Jalosjos ally?routing the Yaps in Sapang Dalaga. The son-father tandem of Donjie and Manuel Animas won over the mother-son tandem of Pacita and Ruel Yap.

Since 2004, the Animas family has held at bay the political comeback of the Yaps in Sapang Dalaga.

Entrenched machinery

The expansion of Jalosjos? political influence is largely driven by an entrenched political machinery at home in Zamboanga del Norte, one of the country?s poorest provinces, and a willingness to spend a fortune to gain power.

In 2004, he delivered a significant lead for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the presidential race, which was supposedly repaid by the commutation of his sentence.

Even in detention while undergoing trial for raping a minor, Jalosjos managed to be reelected for congressman. He would be stripped of his position later by colleagues shortly after he received a guilty verdict.

Nonong, as Jalosjos is known in Zamboanga del Norte, was also elected assemblyman of the Batasang Pambansa during the martial law dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Largely due to the anti-Marcos fallout in the post-Edsa years, he lost a bid for governor.

He managed to work his way back to a seat in the House of Representatives.



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