Jalosjos bid to transport backers to Zambo bared
ZAMBOANGA CITY—Freed child rapist Romeo Jalosjos is bringing in would-be voters into the city in an apparent bid to bolster his chances of winning the race for mayor despite the likelihood of his getting disqualified because of his criminal record.
Buses owned by Jalosjos and ferrying would-be voters to registration centers were apprehended here on Wednesday, revealing the influx of Jalosjos supporters into the city, where the child rapist had filed a certificate of candidacy (COC) to run for mayor.
The buses, named Fantasyland after an amusement park that Jalosjos built for children in Dapitan City, were found transporting would-be voters on Tuesday to Don Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex, where the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has been holding a registration of voters.
Two Fantasyland buses found parked outside the registration site were impounded, according to officials of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) here.
Aminola Abaton, LTO director for western Mindanao, told Inquirer that the Fantasyland buses were impounded because the bus line had no franchise to operate in the city.
The bus line is owned by the Jalosjos family which also operates Gloria de Dapitan, a commercial complex in Dapitan City that was named after former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a staunch ally of Jalosjos.
The buses were carrying Jalosjos supporters that the former Zamboanga del Norte congressman apparently wanted to register in the city to boost his candidacy for mayor.
Jalosjos’ lawyer, Giovanni Luistro, said the apprehension of the two Fantasyland buses was “pure political harassment” against his client.
The LTO, however, laughed off the lawyer’s accusation.
“What we did was a plain and simple enforcement operation and had nothing to do with politics,” said regional LTO chief Abaton.
Joseph Ian Tria, election supervisor of the city’s second district, said the Comelec couldn’t do anything but entertain registrants even if they were bused in by candidates.
He said he could not say how many potential voters were hauled in here but if the documents the would-be voters presented were valid, there will be a dramatic increase in the number of the registered voters in the city.
The city currently has at least 388,000 voters.
Tria told the Inquirer that would-be voters who wanted to beat the registration deadline on Oct. 31 came in droves aboard trucks and other vehicles.
“We observed the hauling of registrants by facilitators, mostly barangay officials, to our offices. They bring registrants here,” Tria said.
Tria said election officials in the first district noticed the same trend.
Although questions hover over Jalosjos’ candidacy because of his criminal record, the now released convict pressed on with filing his COC for city mayor.
The Comelec had said its receipt of Jalosjos’ COC was ministerial and did not have any bearing on whether or not Jalosjos is qualified to run for public office despite his criminal record. Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao
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