ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanews/24 October) – The battle s not yet over.
This was the reaction of Jose Lobregat, chairman of the locally-organized Adelante Zamboanga Party (AZaP), to a local court’s denial of the petition of former Zamboanga del Norte first district representative Romeo Jalosjos for inclusion as a voter in the city.
Lobregat’s statement came after Municipal Trial Court (MTC) Branch 1 Judge Nancy Bantayanon-Cuaresma on Thursday denied Jalosjos’ petition for inclusion in the list of permanent voters under Precinct No. 1465-A for lack of merit.
Lobregat, younger brother of Mayor Celso Lobregat, said they will wait “because we know that this is not the end…I don’t know where they will bring the case.”
The younger Lobregat and Deputy House Speaker and first district Rep. Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar are the oppositors in the petition filed by Jalosjos before the MTC Branch 1.
Salazar is the mayoralty bet of the Liberal Party-Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP)-AZaP coalition while the mayor’s younger brother is the coalition’s bet for representative in the second district.
The mayor is running as representative of the first district.
However, Jose Lobregat said that he and Salazar are prepared to face Jalosjos wherever they may bring the case next.
Jalosjos is the mayoralty bet of the United Nationalist Alliance.
Salazar said they will continue the advocacy against unqualified or ineligible votes and candidates alike, “whose participation will only serve to desecrate and insult the electoral system whose sanctity we seek to preserve.”
Jalosjos, who applied for registration as voter last April 26, filed the petition before the court after the Election Registration Board (ERB) disapproved his application to be a registered voter in this city’s second district.
The ERB’s action came after Salazar and Lobregat filed opposition to Jalosjos’ application for registration.
In turning down Jalosjos’ petition, Cuaresma cited that “although petitioner Jalosjos had already served the principal penalties imposed upon him as commuted by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to 16 years, three months and three days, he has not yet served the eight accessory penalties of perpetual absolute disqualification inherent in and deemed imposed on him together with the principal penalties of two counts of reclusion perpetua and six counts of imprisonment within the range of reclusion temporal which were not subject of commutation, much less of pardon by the President of the Philippines.”
“A commutation of sentence of a convict does not fully absolve him from all effects and consequences of the judgment of conviction and does not have the effect of restoring his right to vote,” the decision added.
Meanwhile, Atty. Giovanni Luistro, one of Jalosjos’ lawyers said they can still go to the Supreme Court by filing a case of certiorari, although it is true that the final arbiter of the case in question is the Regional Trial Court (RTC). [MindaNews]