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The Supreme Court has junked a Commission on Elections (Comelec) order disqualifying the son of convicted child rapist Romeo Jalosjos from seeking the gubernatorial post in Zamboanga Sibugay in the May 2010 elections.
In a seven-page en banc ruling penned by Associate Justice Roberto Abad, the high court said the poll body committed grave abuse of discretion when it twice disqualified Gov. Rommel Apolinario Jalosjos from seeking a seat in the province.
The high court set aside the resolution of the Comelec Second Division dated February 11, 2010 and the resolution of the Comelec en banc dated May 4, 2010, or six days before election day at the time. Despite the Comelec disqualification, the younger Jalosjos was still able to pursue his candidacy after the Supreme Court issued a status quo order on May 7, 2010, ordering both parties and the Comelec to observe the status quo. Domicile
“The evidence Jalosjos presented is sufficient to establish Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, as his domicile," the SC said. Domicile, in law, refers to a person's fixed, permanent, and principal home.
"The court will respect the decision of the people of that province and resolve all doubts regarding his qualification in his favor to breathe life to their manifest will,” the SC said.
The court said that while it respected the Comelec, the SC will "exercise its review powers to correct palpable misappreciation of evidence or wrong or irrelevant considerations.”
The disqualification stemmed from a case filed by Dan Erasmo Sr., chairman of Brangay Veteran Village in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, questionning Jalosjos' nationality.
Erasmo claimed that Jalosjos failed to comply with the necessary requirements to re-acquire Filipino citizenship when he did not execute a personal and sworn renunciation of his Australian citizenship.
Erasmo further said that Jalosjos was not qualified to run in Zamboanag Sibugay because he failed to comply with the residency requirement under the law.
The Comelec eventually ruled in favor of Erasmo. Jalos tried but failed to convince the poll body to reverse its ruling, prompting him to elevate the case to the SC.
In its ruling, the SC said a candidate does not necessarily need to have a house in a specific area to establish his residence or domicile.
"What matters is that Jalosjos has proved two things: actual physical presence in Ipil and an intention of making it his domicile," the SC said.
The elder Jalosjos, who spent more than 10 years in jail for raping an 11-year-old girl in 1996, walked out of prison in March 2009.
Jalosjos was supposed to serve two life terms but former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo shortened his sentence to 16 years.
His "good conduct" while in prison also earned him good conduct time allowance (GCTA) that allowed an even earlier release. — Mark Merueñas/RSJ, GMA News