Yellow ribbons welcome Jalosjos home

Jalosjos, accused and later convicted of raping an 11-year old girl in 1996, walked out of the national penitentiary Thursday and is arriving at the Dipolog City airport at 11 a.m. today on a Cebu Pacific flight from Manila.

Dapitan, his hometown, is about 14 kilometers from Dipolog.

Jalosjos will have a press conference upon his arrival at the Dipolog airport then proceed to Gloria de Dapitan, a modern entertainment complex his family owns here, to meet his supporters and political leaders.

Sergio Dagpin, 61, of Polo Village, Dapitan, says “we miss him so much and we are happy that he is now back to us.”

“Welcome home Sir, Nonong,” and “Welcome Home, Cong Nonong”  streamers are displayed prominently in the airport and the trees are festooned as well with yellow ribbons.

“We are afraid the airport cannot hold the number of people who will meet him there,” said Dapitan Councilor Apple Marie Agolong.

Jalosjos may be viewed a villain to many but Zamboanga del Norte, where the Jalosjos clan dominates politics and business, is giving him a hero’s welcome.

Thirteen years ago, in 1996, Jalosjos, then on his first term as congressman, was accused of raping an 11-year-old girl. He was found guilty of two counts of statutory rape and six counts of acts of lasciviousness,  appealed his case but the Supreme Court affirmed his conviction.

Detained while on trial, Jalosjos ran for a second and third term in 1998 and 2001 and won.  But the Supreme Court upheld his conviction in 2001 and upheld it with finality in 2002, leading to his removal from the roster of members of the House of Representatives.

The Supreme Court had affirmed Jalosjos’ sentence of reclusion perpetua for each count of statutory rape and an indeterminate penalty of reclusion temporal  — minimum of 12 years and one day to a maximum of 15 years, 6 months and 20 days–  for each count of acts of lasciviousness.

He was also ordered to pay the victim P50,000 as civil indemnity for each count of statutory rape and acts of lasciviousness – a total of P400,000  plus moral damages also amounting to P50,000 per count – a total also of P400,000.

Newspaper and television reports quoted the freed Jalosjos as saying his detention “humbled” him and gave him a new mission in life – to help innocent prisoners.

“'It's only now that I have a true feeling for people. Truly, I have no plan to join politics. I lost all desire to run for a government office,” he told reporters in Metro Manila.

In December 2008, Oscar Calderon, director of the Bureau of Corrections endorsed to the Department of Justice (DOJ) Jalosjos’ request for the reconsideration of his colonist status.

On Wednesday, Calderon said he signed the release order for Jalosjos after Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez approved the “colonist status" for the former congressman.

The last time Jalosjos came home was in Christmas 2007 but his release was found illegal and he was recommitted to jail.

Then NBP Superintendent Juanito Leopando signed the release papers of Jalosjos on December 14, 2007, even without final approval from the Department of Justice (DOJ). A DOJ probe showed that Leopando signed Jalosjos’s discharge papers even as the disposition form and memorandum attached to it were mere photocopies.

Leopando was placed under preventive suspension following Jalosjos' premature discharge on December 22, 2007. (Tony Mana