ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 03, 2007) – A Filipino court has rejected Thursday a petition by convicted child rapist Romeo Jalosjos for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.
Police arrested Jalosjos, a former Zamboanga del Norte congressman, who walked out of prison in Manila last month and flew by plane to his hometown in Zamboanga del Norte province.
Jalosjos, convicted to serve two life terms for raping an 11-year girl, was granted executive clemency by President Gloria Arroyo after serving 13 years in prison.
Arroyo’s decision drew wild protests and human rights advocates and women’s groups have criticized her for commuting Jalosjos’ double-life sentence, saying, the politician should have not been freed from jail. And government jailed him again.
Jalosjos was first released on Dec. 16 from the national penitentiary and even attended a mass with family members. But he was forced to return the next day after the Philippine media reported about his release.
Judge Jesus Carbon junked a resolution denying Jalosjos’ writ of habeas petition.
Jalosjos insisted he is a free man and blamed politics for the recall of the presidential pardon.
His lawyer, Alfredo Jimenez, said they will appeal the decision of the court. «We will file a motion for reconsideration. The decision of the court junking our petition for a writ of habeas corpus is not yet final,» he told The Manila Times.
It was not immediately known whether Jalosjos is still in prison in Zamboanga City following the decision of the court.
Jimenez said they received reports that Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales ordered Jalosjos to be brought back immediately to the national penitentiary.
«We don’t know whether Congressman Jalosjos is still in Zamboanga or not, but we received reports that Justice Secretary Gonzales ordered that Congressman Jalosjos be brought back to the national penitentiary,» he said, adding, his group will oppose any move to transfer the politician to Manila.
Jimenez said the court based its decision to alleged wrong computation of national penitentiary officials on Jalosjos’ prison terms. «As far as we know, Congressman Jalosjos is a free man,» he said.
The writ of habeas is a legal procedure by which a court inquires into the lawfulness of a person’s confinement. It takes the form of an order from a court or judge requiring the custodian to produce the prisoner in court for a judicial investigation into the validity of the detention.
On Wednesday, hundreds of Jalosjos supporters gathered in Dapitan City in Zamboanga del Norte and denounced the decision of the government to put back the politician in jail.
Jalosjos, according to Gonzales, may be granted pardon by 2010.Gonzales has previously ordered an investigation into how Jalosjos was able to walk out of prison. (Mindanao Examiner)