The decision of the President to commute the two life sentences of convicted rapist and former Congressman Romeo Jalosjos sends the wrong message to the Filipino people. Jalosjos’ commutation tells us that victims of rape cannot expect justice, if it means that the monsters who violated them will eventually be allowed to be set free. True, commutation isn’t the same as a pardon; Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita stresses this. But it still means that Jalosjos, who is 66, can expect to be pardoned when he turns 70, considering that the President almost automatically does this. Is this justice?
Remember that the victim that Jalosjos raped was only eleven at the time, so that makes Jalosjos both a rapist and a child molester. Is this the sort of creature we want released into our society? Is this justice?
Furthermore, according to the Inquirer story, Jalosjos was sentenced to two life sentences, which, in reality, runs to about 30-40 years (I’ll need to check that), plus “an additional 8 to 15 years for each of the six counts of acts of lasciviousness.” That’s a grand maximum total of 170 years in prison, which means that, if properly served, Jalosjos should never see the light of freedom; he should die in prison. If we count the number of years Jalosjos has spent in prison, he has spent a total of eleven years, five of it after the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s decision with finality. Five years out of 170. Is this justice?
The timing of the commutation, coming off the heels of the recent May election, smacks of political payback, which isn’t anything new under this administration. Jalosjos is said to still have tremendous clout in Zamboanga del Norte, and it isn’t a flight of fancy to imagine that his commutation has something to do with the late actor and 2004 presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. losing by around 100,000 votes.
As Katrina Legarda so acidly put in her response to the Inquirer story, “What can we say? This President has allowed a Garci (Garcillano), rapist of the electoral process, allowed a Pidal, a rapist of the economy. So she must have wanted to complete the cast of characters and allow a rapist of our children to do as he wants also.”
We have to make our voice heard in this case. We have to send the message loud and clear that Jalosjos should not be allowed such leniency, that criminals will be punished for their crimes. Is this justice? Certainly not.