Former Zamboanga del Norte Congressman Romeo Jalosjos is seeking absolute pardon for his statutory rape conviction in 1997 which, if granted, would qualify him to run for office again.
Jalosjos, released from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) eight years ago on a commuted sentence, is among the 36 convicts who applied for executive clemency, according to the Board of Pardon and Parole (BPP).
If he gains executive clemency, Jaloslos would be able to run for public office again, as the penalty placed on him, which perpetually disqualifies him from holding office, will be revoked.
Interested parties may send written objections, comments, and relevant information to the BPP, said the panel’s Executive Director Reynaldo Bayang.
The BPP, an attached agency of the Department of Justice (DOJ), is tasked to screen applicants for pardon, and submit recommendations for President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval.
The Constitution allows the president to pardon any prisoner with or without parole conditions, and for the commutation of sentence.
A prisoner can also be granted parole or conditional release after serving the minimum sentence.
Jalosjos was found guilty by the Regional Trial Court of Makati City for raping an 11-year-old girl twice in 1996. He was sentenced to two life terms.
Then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo granted him clemency in 2007, and commuted his sentence to 16 years.
He was initially released from the New Bilibid Prison in December 2007, but was returned to jail after a month, when it was found that he had yet to complete his reduced sentence.
Jalosjos was finally released from the NBP in March 2009 after serving 16 years, three months and three days, including additional good conduct time allowance of one year, six months and 17 days.
He joined the mayoralty race in May 2013, but was disqualified by the Commission on Elections.
The Supreme Court upheld his disqualification in June 2013, ruling that the “accessory penalty had not been expressly remitted in the Order of Commutation or by any subsequent pardon and, as such, petitioner’s (Jalosjos') disqualification to run for elective office is deemed to subsist.”