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Jalosjos, convicted rapist, walks free

- Rhodina Villanueva -

MANILA, Philippines - Convicted child rapist and former Zamboanga del Norte congressman Romeo Jalosjos is expected to walk out of prison a free man today after completing a commuted 16-year sentence.

“I signed the conformity of the computation of his jail term since he has already completed 16 years of his sentence,” Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez told reporters yesterday.

“It (his release) is now up to Bureau of Corrections director Oscar Calderon,” he said, adding that Jalosjos should have been released last December.

In reality, Jalosjos spent only 11 years in prison after his conviction in 1997 by a Makati City court for two counts of statutory rape and six counts of acts of lasciviousness under the Revised Penal Code. His victim was an 11-year-old girl.

President Arroyo commuted Jalosjos’ original two life terms on June 13, 2007 to 16 years. In the original sentence, Jalosjos was also ordered to pay P400,000 in civil indemnity and P400,000 in moral damages.

Superintendent Bartolome Bustamante, head executive assistant to Calderon, said Jalosjos’ “good conduct” while serving time at the New Bilibid Prisons has made the former congressman eligible for release.

“After three months of re-evaluation conducted by the DOJ, Secretary Gonzalez finally confirmed in a Memorandum dated March 17, 2009 the grant of colonist status on inmate Jalosjos after having established sufficient factual and documentary proof,” Bartolome said.

“With the computation, Jalosjos has earned additional GCTA of one year, six months, 17 days as of Dec. 16, 2008. By computation, he had already served the maximum sentence of 16 years, three months and three days, as commuted,” he said. GCTA stands for good conduct time allowance.

A prisoner is granted a colonist status for good behavior or if he has not violated any prison regulation.

Gonzalez explained that under the law, a prisoner who has shown good behavior during the period of evaluation would be given GCTA of 15 days per month of his prison term.

Under the Revised Penal Code, Gonzalez said good behavior in the first two years of sentence entitles a convict to five days reduction for every month.

Good behavior from the third to fifth year entitles a prisoner to a reduction of eight days for every month. Good behavior from the sixth to 10th year earns a 10-day reduction for every month. Above that, the reduction is 15 days for every month, he said.

Gonzalez’s approval of the release of Jalosjos was apparently based on the computation of former Bureau of Corrections director Vicente Vinarao, making Jalosjos eligible for release on Dec. 16 last year.

Jalosjos walked out of prison in late December last year after receiving a discharge order and immediately flew to his hometown in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte on Dec. 22.

That surprised prison officials who were unable to explain how the convict had walked out of prison and flew to Dapitan.

The escapade also cost the job of other prison officials, who were placed under investigation.

Though Jalosjos surrendered to the police a day after his controversial “escape,” he questioned the legality of his arrest and recommitment to San Ramon Penal colony.

Bustamante, meanwhile, said prison authorities would have to complete some paperwork before Jalosjos is allowed to leave the NBP premises.

A recent memorandum addressed to Calderon and signed by Alfredo Benitez, officer-in-charge of the BuCor Administrative Division, said, “The close scrutiny/study on the circumstances and documents on hand, it was established that the grant of colonist status to said inmate passed through the regular process in accordance with the BuCor Operating Manual.”

“It was carefully screened and favorably recommended by the NBP Classification Board and subsequently approved by the Director. It was not a singular act of the then BuCor Director.”

‘Sterling leadership’

Meanwhile, Calderon, in a memorandum to Gonzalez, cited Jalosjos’ “sterling leadership” while in prison as well as his activities aimed at improving the lives of fellow prisoners at the NBP.

“During my stint as director, I have personally observed the active participation of inmate Romeo Jalosjos in multi-faceted rehabilitation/transformation programs of the Bureau of Corrections with the end view of bringing back the dignity of men in prison,” Calderon said.

“His (Jalosjos) sterling leadership has undoubtedly enhanced the inmates’ understanding, cooperation and all-out support of the Bureau’s various programs, projects and activities as shown in the recently concluded National Correctional Consciousness Week celebration last November 2008,” the memorandum read.

“Along with the actual time served and usual/regular GCTA shown in their computation, plus the colonist GCTA credit, is sufficient to cover the commuted sentence of 16 years, three months and three days,” Calderon said, referring to Jalosjos’ case.

From January to February, around 450 inmates of the NBP have reportedly been released, including the 10 soldiers convicted in the Aquino-Galman double murder case. 

ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISION

ALFREDO BENITEZ

BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS

CLASSIFICATION BOARD

GONZALEZ

JALOSJOS

PRISON

ROMEO JALOSJOS

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