Thursday, 23 August 2012 13:20
Deputy House Speaker and District 1 Rep. Beng Climaco-Salazar earnestly appealed yesterday to the Election Registration Board (ERB) to apply the pertinent laws on her petition, opposing to or challenging the application for voter’s registration of Romeo G. Jalosjos Jr.
Climaco issued the statement during the first day of hearing on her petition yesterday before the ERB, stressing that “an impartial, prompt and judicious resolution of our Opposition to the Application for Voter’s Registration of Mr. Jalosjos will uphold justice and fair play, shape public policy and protect public interest.”
“Thus, I earnestly appeal to the ERB to apply the pertinent laws, in both letter and intent, and send the message that no man, regardless of wealth and influence, may gain any undue advantage at the expense of ordinary citizens,” Climaco underscored.
To recall, Climaco in her capacity as chairman of the Liberal Party (LP) - Zamboanga City Chapter, formally filed an Opposition to the Application for Voter’s Registration of Jalosjos before the Election Registration Board (ERB) – District II of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) last July 7.
“As a lawmaker representing the First District of Zamboanga City, it is incumbent upon me to ensure that all persons are treated equally and fairly under the law regardless of status and economic standing, and that our electoral process and laws be respected, upheld and properly adhered to,” She said upon filing the petition.
According to her, after thoroughly considering the applicable laws and jurisprudence on the qualification and eligibility of a person to register as a voter, she was certain that Jalosjos is disqualified from doing so by virtue of his conviction of the crimes of Statutory Rape and Acts of Lasciviousness, which were upheld by no less than the Supreme Court of the Philippines.
“It is also important to note,” Climaco further said, “that Jalosjos was not granted a pardon, but only a mere commutation or reduction of sentence.
Consequently, it is now incumbent upon our electoral officials to apply the laws as they are worded and as intended by the legislature.”
Climaco said Jalosjos’ disqualification of Mr. Jalosjos stems from his conviction of the crimes of Statutory Rape and Acts of Lasciviousness, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in its Decision in the case of People of the Philippines vs. Romeo G. Jalosjos, G.R. Nos. 132875-76, dated November 16, 2001.
In the said Decision, the High Court upheld the Regional Trial Court’s decision finding Mr. Jalosjos guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two (2) counts of Statutory Rape and six (6) counts of Acts of Lasciviousness, sentencing him to Reclusion Perpetua and Reclusion Temporal, respectively for each count.
Having been convicted by final judgment, Mr. Jalosjos suffers from the accessory penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification under Article 30 of the Revised Penal Code, including being deprived of the right to vote in any election for any popular elective office or to be elected to such office, according to the lady solon.
Records show that in 2007, Mr. Jalosjos was granted a commutation of sentence by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The commutation merely reduced his original sentence from an imprisonment of forty (40) years to sixteen (16) years, three (3) months and three (3) days. “Since Mr. Jalosjos was NOT granted an absolute pardon but a mere commutation of sentence, his perpetual absolute disqualification remains”, the congresswoman stressed.
It is also unequivocally clear under Section 11 of the Voter’s Registration Act of 1996 and Section 6 of COMELEC Resolution No. 9149 that any person who has been sentenced by final judgment to suffer imprisonment of not less than one (1) year shall not reacquire the right to vote until the expiration of five (5) years after service of sentence.
She said official records with the Bureau of Corrections will readily show that Mr. Jalosjos was discharged from the National Bilibid Prison on March 18, 2009 after serving his reduced prison sentence.
In other words, even assuming for the sake of argument that Mr. Jalosjos may reacquire the right to vote despite his criminal convictions, he will not reacquire such right until March 17, 2014, she added.
Jalosmos filed an Application for Voter’s Registration in Precinct No. 1465-A, Barangay Tetuan, District II of Zamboanga City last April 26, 2012, despite knowing fully well that he is DISQUALIFIED from registering as a voter.
By Marvin Segura
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