Habeas Corpus for Jalosjos Junked

by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com

MANILA — THE Department of Justice (DOJ) Wednesday January 2, 2008 announced that the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga City has dismissed the petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus filed by former Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jalosjos for lack of merit.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said he has ordered the immediate return of Jalosjos from the San Ramon Prison and Farm in Zamboanga City to the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa due to the dismissal of his petition.

“As far as we are concern we are pleased with the decision because it sustained the arguments we have raised…I have already issued an order to return him to the NBP because it is here where he originated,” the DOJ chief said in a hastily called press conference Tuesday.

Gonzalez said Zamboanga RTC Branch 16 Judge Jesus Carbon, who is handling Jalosjos’ petition for habeas corpus, based his decision on the resolution issued by the DOJ on January 1 which states that based on its computation of the former solon’s  good conduct time allowance (GCTA), he will be eligible for release by 2010.

The DOJ chief said he is expecting Jalosjos to file a motion for reconsideration before the lower court but this would not prevent his transfer to the NBP.

Earlier, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) argued that Jalosjos cannot avail of the writ of habeas corpus to secure his freedom since his detention is legal owing to his final conviction for statutory rape in 1997.

Devanadera noted that Jalosjos’s detention is pursuant to a final judgment of the Supreme Court convicting him of two counts of statutory rape and six counts of acts of lasciviousness.

Jalosjos escaped from the NBP compound on December 22 by virtue of a certificate of discharge signed by Superintendent Juanito Leopando. His escape also led to the removal of Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Ricardo Dapat from his post.

But, the OSG said that the release order is not binding since Leopando failed to affirm its authenticity before the court and that the latter has no authority to allow Jalosjos’ release since Dapat has already issued a memorandum stopping his release.

“Petitioner evaded service of sentence. This is because his release date is still scheduled on June 24, 2010. Petitioner became a fugitive from justice when he fled from prison to avoid serving his full punishment. His warrantless arrest by PNP authorities on December 23, 2007 was, therefore, legal,” the OSG stressed.


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