Jalosjos ‘escapes’, flies to Zamboanga
|Posted by Manila Mail under Philippine News|
MANILA Convicted rapist Romeo Jalosjos faces an extended stay in jail for walking out of the national penitentiary Dec. 22 while prison officers responsible for the questionable release of the former Zamboanga del Norte congressman will be investigated by the Department of Justice.
After flying to Dapitan by private plane, Jalosjos later flew to Zamboanga city where he surrendered to police.
Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said Dec. 23 his department is now studying possible charges against Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) officials who allowed Jalosjos to go out of the National Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City.
We will investigate if there was conspiracy involved, Gonzales said.
When asked if Jalosjos would earn demerits, which would lengthen his stay in prison, Gonzalez said, it depends on the result of our probes. He added that Bucor head Ricardo Dapat would have to explain Saturdays walkout by Jalosjos.
Gonzalez said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo gave him blanket authority to deal with the matter.
Gonzalez cited information reaching him that Jalosjos was being transported to the Zamboanga Penal Colony from Dapitan City, and was expected to arrive there between Dec. 23. He said a joint team from the Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation arrested Jalosjos in Dapitan City late Saturday.
Gonzalez said he ordered Justice Undersecretary Fidel Exconde to investigate the incident, including last weeks leakage of Jalosjos release order.
Earlier in Muntinlupa, Jalosjos insisted that he was a free man, saying he was indeed released and has the papers to back up his claim.
But Palace and justice officials claimed that his time served in prison is incomplete and defended President Arroyos decision to stop his release, citing procedural lapses and public interest as the main reasons.
President Arroyos commutation of sentence on Jalosjos, which was convicted to double life imprisonment for rape, ignited the anger of womens groups. This prompted Arroyo to review the pardon.
In a lounge at a tennis court outside the main prison facility but within the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) complex, Jalosjos, accompanied by bodyguards, showed media his release order and maintained that his status as an inmate should be reviewed.
Around 4:30 a.m. Sunday (Dec. 16), my family picked me up at my quarters. We attended Mass at the Ina ng Awa Parish, which is also inside the compound. After that, we went home and we had breakfast. I even slept a little, but prison officials called me up at 11 a.m. and requested me to come back because the Department of Justice (DOJ) reportedly still wanted to conduct a review of my status,” he said.
Jalosjos house is located along M. Araullo Street in Katarungan Village, which prison officials said is part of the NBP Reservation area but the properties there are privately owned. It is a housing project for members of the Judiciary and personnel of the Department of Justice, including all its bureaus.
In his bailiwick in Zamboanga del Norte, followers of Jalosjos already welcomed the impending release of the former congressman with fireworks.
Jalosjos said that he was just cooperating when he showed up again at the NBP premises, and was giving way to the request of the DOJ for a review of his sentence.
Asked why he did remain outside since he claims that he is already a former prisoner, Jalosjos said, Why will I risk confrontation? There is a misunderstanding. There is a misinterpretation as to the computation of the sentence I already served. Things will all the more get out of hand.”
He likewise expressed confidence about the computation (of his sentence) made by former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Vicente Vinarao and his successor Director Ricardo Dapat.
In my case, there is no need for a recommendation or a request from any other office. Director Dapat had just implemented what was needed to be implemented. I had to be released. He is just doing his job otherwise, he can be charged with arbitrary detention,” Jalosjos explained.
But Gonzalez thought otherwise. The release was premature because it was not approved by the DOJ. Political consideration here is something that you cannot ignore,” he said.
Gonzalez said President Arroyo was very upset when she heard that Jalosjos was being released last Sunday Dec. 16).
The President was upset because she felt that her policy of 70 was being ignored,” he said.
Jalosjos cited good conduct time allowance as the reason his sentence was substantially reduced, eventually making him eligible for release.
NBP officials explained that if a prisoner shows good behavior during the period of evaluation, he or she is given what is called a good conduct time allowance of 15 days. This means his sentence is reduced by 15 days.
Add to this the penal colonist status which I gained after it was approved by the NBP Classification Board last March 13, 2007. This meant reduction of an additional five days to what has remained of my sentence,” Jalosjos said.
He also expressed optimism that something good will eventually come out of this and that the Justice department will realize that the computation of his served sentence is correct and recognize him as a free man.
I might file an appropriate case at the lower court if nothing happens. I am ready to contest them and defend the computation of the Bureau of Corrections. The BuCor order should be respected,” he said.
Prior to the reported release, Bureau of Corrections Director Ricardo Dapat said Jalosjos may be released without the necessary documentation signed by President Arroyo.
This type of release applies to Mr. Jalosjos. Upon review of the records section of our office of Jalosjos case, it was found that he can now be released from prison,” he said Dec. 15, a day before Jalosjos was scheduled to be released.
Dapat claimed there is no need to coordinate with the Board of Pardons and Parole, or even with Malacaang, since the former lawmaker has already substantially served his sentence.
A copy of Jalosjos Certificate of Discharge from Prison dated Dec. 16, 2007, was signed by NBP Superintendent Juanito Leopando.
Dapat was not available for comment when Malacanang and the Department of Justice blocked the release of the controversial convict.