The Conviction of Romeo Jalosjos
In December 1997, the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 62 found Jalosjos guilty of two counts of statutory rape and six counts of acts of lasciviousness. He brought his case before the Supreme Court, but it affirmed his conviction in 2001 and 2002.
The lower court's guilty verdict paved the way for Jalosjos' transfer to the New Bilibid Prison in 1998. But despite his conviction, Jalosjos managed to run for re-election and win in the 1998 and 2001 elections. He held his post until the Supreme Court upheld his conviction with finality in 2002. His name was subsequently dropped from the list of members of the House of Representatives.
In its 2001 decision, the Supreme Court affirmed Jalosjos' sentence of reclusion perpetua for each count of statutory rape and an indeterminate penalty of reclusion temporal (from a minimum of 12 years and 1 day to a maximum of 15 years, 6 months and 20 days) for each count of acts of lasciviousness. The convicted congressman was also ordered to pay the victim P50,000 as civil indemnity for each count of statutory rape and acts of lasciviousness, plus moral damages also amounting to P50,000 per count.
In April 2007, Malacañang acted upon the recommendation of the Department of Justice and commuted Jalosjos' sentence to 16 years, three months and three days. Jalosjos was also ordered to pay the civil indemnity and moral damages earlier imposed on him by the Supreme Court.
Malacañang denied that the commutation of Jalosjos' sentence was a political accommodation. It claimed that Jalosjos' case was no different from other prisoners whose sentences are considered for commutation due to their conduct, ailing health, or advanced age.
Jalosjos, 68*, has been behind bars for the past 12 years (actual number of years spent behind bars, counting from his detention at the Makati City Jail in 1997). He was hospitalized at the Makati Medical Center in 2004 after suffering from a mild stroke. He walked out of the NBP in December 2007 and flew to Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, claiming that he was legally a free man. As it turned out, the order for his release had not yet been officially approved; he was flown back to the NBP in January 2008.
Jalosjos is set to be released in March 2009 after the Department of Justice granted him colonist status (colonist status entails the subtraction of five days in every month of the convict's sentence).
*Jalosjos' birthdate is November 24, 1940
Sources: Supreme Court, news reports
Romeo Jalosjos' turf--Zamboanga del Norte-- is an administration bailiwick. President Arroyo won here in the 2004 elections, leading her closest rival Fernando Poe Jr. by almost 100,000 votes. In the 2007 senatorial elections, the province delivered a 7-5 win to Team Unity candidates, with senatorial candidate Prospero Pichay Jr. emerging as the topnotcher.
Jalosjos also belongs to the most prominent clan in Zamboanga del Norte. Five of his kin are incumbent (2007-2010) elected officials. His sister, Cecilia Garcia Jalosjos-Carreon, is already serving her third term as 1st District Representative, while his brother, 3rd District Representative Cesar G. Jalosjos, is on his second term.
Cecilia and Cesar both belong to the administration party KAMPI; both voted to junk the impeachment complaint filed against President Arroyo in 2005 and 2006.
Another sibling, Dominador Jalosjos Jr., has been holding the mayoral seat in Dapitan City since 2004.
Romeo's sons Romeo Jalosjos, Jr. and Seth Frederick Jalosjos are Tampilisan mayor and Zamboanga del Norte provincial board member, respectively. Both are elected for the first time.