SC: Jalosjos remains Representative of Zamboanga Sibugay's second district
In an eight-page ruling written by Associate Justice Roberto Abad, the high court reversed a Commission on Elections (Comelec) decision stripping Jalosjos of his membership in the House of Representatives.
The Supreme Court did not rule on the residency qualification issue raised in the complaint filed before the Comelec. The high court reversed the Comelec ruling on the issue of jurisdiction, which the justices said Comelec did not have.
Jalosjos Jr's father was congressman of Zamboanga of Del Norte and was convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl in 1996. More than a decade after being jailed, the elder Jalosjos walked out a free man in March 2009 after serving a commuted sentence.
In his complaint, Dan Erasmo Sr asked the Comelec to cancel Jalosjos' certificate of candidacy for the May 2010 elections. Erasmo alleged that Jalosjos made "misrepresentations" that he was a resident of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay.
Erasmo said Jalosjos should not be considered a resident of Ipil because he continued serving as mayor of Tampilisan, Zamboanga del Norte when he [Jalosjos] applied for a transfer of his voter's registration record to Ipil.
Jalosjos elevated the case to the Court of Appeals, which eventually ruled in his favor on June 2, 2010. At the time, Jalos had just won as Zamboanga Sibugay congressman.
In its ruling, the high court stressed that it is the House of Represetatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) that has jurisdiction over question on Jalosjos' election.
"While the Constitution vests in the Comelec the power to decide all questions affecting elections, such power is not without limitation," the SC said.
"It does not extend to contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of members of the House of Representatives and the Senate," it added.
The high court said jurisdiiton over cases like that of Jalosjos' is "vested solely" on the electoral tribunal either of the Senate or the House of Representatives.
The court said since Jalosjos won and was proclaimed Representative of Zamboanga Sibugay’s second district in the 2010 elections, jurisdiction of the case transferred to the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).
"The Comelec acted without jurisidiction when it still passed upon the issue on his qualification and declared him ineligible for the office of Representative of the Second District of Zamboanga Sibugay," the high court said.
Apart from the Zamboanga Sibugay lawmaker, two other members of the Jalosjos clan sit as congressmen. They are Cesar Jalosjos of the Third District of Zamboanga del Norte and Seth Jalosjos of the First District of Zamboanga del Norte. — ELR, GMA News