Comelec rejects Jalosjos registration as voter in Zamboanga City
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—The Commission on Elections has rejected a bid by Romeo Jalosjos, a convicted child rapist released from prison in 2009 after serving a sentence shortened by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to register as a voter here.
The rejection in effect put a lid on the former Zamboanga del Norte congressman’s stated desire to run for mayor of the city next year.
Joseph Ian Tria, election officer of the Comelec’s District 2 here, disclosed on Wednesday that Jalosjos had sought to be registered as a voter in the city’s Barangay Tetuan, where he has been residing, and that his application was rejected last Friday.
“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 district’s election registration board (ERB).
Under that law, Tria said, a person who has been sentenced by final judgment to imprisonment of more than a year can vote only five years after serving his sentence.
Jalosjos was freed in March 2009 after completing a commuted 16-year sentence for the rape of an 11-year old girl.
“He can vote five years after serving his sentence,” Tria said, adding Jalosjos would be eligible to register again as a voter in 2015.
Jalosjos, who has formed the movement Zamboangueños for the Transformation of Zamboanga (ZTZ), has openly declared his intention to run for mayor next year despite his apparent disqualification from holding public office.
Jalosjos said he would take the matter to the Court of Appeals and even the Supreme Court.
He accused members of the ERB of bias toward Zamboanga City Reprepresentative Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, who has declared her intention to run for mayor and was among those who opposed Jalosjos’ registration as a voter in the city.
Salazar told the Inquirer her opposition was based on Jalosjos’ criminal record.
“When a person files an application to register as a voter, he affirms that he possesses all the qualifications. In the case of Mr. Jalosjos, he is manifestly disqualified, hence our opposition under Section 18 of the Voter’s Registration Act,” she said.
Under the law, a convict is disqualified to seek public office for life unless granted absolute pardon by the president.
In Jalosjos’ case, then President Arroyo merely commuted his sentence to 11 years upon the recommendation of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, which cited his “good conduct” in detention.