MANILA, Philippines - Romeo Jalosjos Jr. has won a Supreme Court battle to remain as representative of the 2nd congressional district of Zamboanga Sibugay.
In a unanimous vote, the high court en banc reversed and set aside a Commision on Elections (Comelec) order that declared Jalosjos ineligible to seek election in his current post for failing to satisfy the residency requirement.
In a 9-page rulling penned by Justice Roberto Abad, the Supreme Court reinstated the Comelec 2nd Division's resolution dated February 23, 2010 that dismissed a petition filed by Jalosjos' rival, Dan Erasmo, Sr., to cancel the lawmaker's Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for insufficiency in form and substance.
"It also dismissed for lack of jurisdiction the petition in GR No. 192704 and GR No. 193566 concerning the COMELEC’s failure to annul Jalosjos’ proclamation and his exclusion from the voters’ list, respectively," the Supreme Court Public Information Office said in a statement Friday.
The ruling reiterated the demarcation line between the jurisdiction of the Comelec and the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), the high court said.
"The proclamation of a congressional candidate following the election divests Comelec of jurisdiction over disputes relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the proclaimed Representative in favor of the HRET," it explained.
Jalosjos was already proclaimed on May 13, 2010 as winner in the election when the Comelec en banc issued its order dated June 3, 2010 that declared Jalosjos ineligible, the Supreme Court said.
"Thus, the Comelec acted without jurisdiction when it still passed upon the issue of his qualification and declared him ineligible for the office of Representative of the 2nd District of Zamboanga Sibugay," the SC said.
Jalosjos ran and won the mayoralty race in Tampilisan, Zamboanga del Norte in May 2007. While serving as Tampilisan mayor, he bought a house and lot in Brgy. Veterans Village in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay and occupied it in September 2008.
In May 2009, Jalosjos applied with the Election Registration Board (ERB) of Ipil, Zamboanga, Sibugay for transfer of his voter’s registration record to Precinct 0051F of Brgy. Veterans Village, court records show.
The ERB approved Jalosjos’ application but Erasmo later filed a petition to exclude Jalosjos from the list of registered voters in Precinct 0051F before the First Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Ipil-Tungawan-R.T. Lim.
The MCTC excluded Jalosjos from the list of registered voters and ruled that he did not abandon his domicile in Tampilisan since he continued to serve as its mayor. Jalosjos appealed his case to Regional Trial Court of Pagadian City, which affirmed the MCTC decision.
Jalosjos then elevated the matter to the Court of Appeals, which issued a writ of preliminary injunction preventing the trial courts from enforcing their decisions.
On November 28, 2009, Jalosjos filed a certificate of candidacy for the position of representative of the 2nd District of Zamboanga Sibugay for the May 2010 elections.
Erasmo filed a petition to cancel Jalosjos' COC before the Comelec, claiming that his opponent made material misrepresentations in that COC when he indicated in it that he resided in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.
On February 23, 2010, the Comelec 2nd Division dismissed Erasmo’s petition for insufficiency in form and substance.
While Erasmo's motion for reconsideration was pending before the Comelec en banc, Jalosjos won as representative of the 2nd district of Zamboanga Siguay in the May 10, 2010 elections.
The COMELEC en banc later granted Erasmo's motion for reconsideration and declared Jalosjos ineligible to seek election as representative of the said district.
The matter was then brought to the Supreme Court, which ruled in Jalosjos' favor.