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ZAMBOANGA CITY: The local court rejected the petition of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) stalwart and former Zamboanga del Norte Congressman Romeo “Nonong” Jalosjos to reinstate him as a candidate and overturn the election registration board’s (ERB) decision to disqualify him as voter of this city.
In a 16-page decision penned by Municipal Trial Court branch 1 of the 9th Judicial Region, Judge Nancy Bantayanon-Cuaresma said Jalosjos’ motion was denied for lack of merit.
The court ruling was the third setback for Jalosjos, who has been seeking to reinstate his right to register as a voter and qualify as a mayoralty candidate. Jalosjos spent 13 years in prison after being convicted of statutory rape and acts of lasciviousness. The ERB disqualified Jalosjos last August 31 and subsequently denied his appeal a week later.
The case stemmed from the petitions filed by House Deputy Speaker Ma Isabela Climaco-Salazar of the Liberal Party (LP) and Jose Lobregat of the Adelante Zamboanga to disqualify Jalosjos to register as a voter because the latter suffers the “accessory to penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification having been sentenced to two counts of reclusion perpetua” as a result of the statutory rape case against him. Jalosjos was released from prison in 2007.
Jalosjos has sought a reconsideration of the ERB decision before the Municipal Trial Court, saying that the “perpetual disqualification” penalty on him contemplated under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) is no longer applicable as it has been repealed and superseded after the expiration of the five-year period after the service of the sentence.
Jalosjos also invoked his right of suffrage as expressed in the Article X of the constitution.
The court in its decision affirmed that Jalosjos still faces the accessory of penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification under the RPC.
The two penalties of reclusion perpetua and six penalties of imprisonment within the rage of reclusion temporal imposed on Jalosjos as a result of his conviction for two counts of statutory rape and six counts of acts of lasciviousness carry with them eight accessory penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification pursuant to article 41 and article 73 of the RPC, the court added.
“Imprisonment is not the only punishment which the law imposes upon those who violate its command. There are accessory penalties and resultant disabilities which are deemed included in the imposition of the principal penalties,” the judge said.
The court added that although Jalosjos had already served the principal penalties imposed upon him as commuted by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to 16 years, three months and three days, he has not yet served the eight accessory penalties of his offenses.
It added that the commutation of sentence of a convict does not fully absolve Jalosjos from all the effects and consequences of the judgment of conviction “and does not have the effect of restoring his right to vote.”
The court decision also added that section 39 of the Local Government Code provides, among others, the qualification of a candidate, which must be a registered voter of the place where he intends to be elected.
“In the case at bar, petitioner Romeo G Jalosjos is not qualified to register as a voter and to vote. Consequently, he can not be a candidate and cannot vote or be voted upon in any national or local elections until his perpetual absolute disqualifications are expressly remitted and restored by pardon,” the court decision added. In a local radio interview, meanwhile, Jalosjos said he will appeal the case before the regional trial court.
The Philippine star