Oct 232014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2005-09-26 07:13
2011-08-30 01:44
Embassy Manila

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 004545



E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/27/2015


¶B. MANILA 0219

Classified By: Acting Pol/C Joseph L. Novak for Reasons 1.4
(b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: The Palace is reportedly considering
pardoning former Congressman Romeo Jalosjos, who has been in
jail since 1997 for raping an 11 year old girl. According to
opponents of the possible move, the Palace is considering the
matter as a reward to the Jalosjos clan, which is politically
influential in Mindanao. The Palace has neither confirmed
nor denied the reports that it is considering a pardon,
although the Justice Secretary has spoken equivocally on the
matter. The notion that the Palace might even be
contemplating a pardon tends to highlight President Arroyo’s
continued insecurity over her political position. End

¶2. (SBU) Pressing for a Pardon: Malacanang Palace is
reportedly considering pardoning former Congressman Romeo
Jalosjos, who has been in jail since 1997 for raping an 11
year old girl (see background re Jalosjos and his case below;
also see ref b). His brother, Cesar Jalosjos, and sister,
Cecilia Jalosjos Carreon, who are both representatives in the
House from Zamboanga del Norte Province in Mindanao, have
been pressing the issue and urging an immediate pardon for
Jalosjos based on medical grounds (they say he has heart
problems). Jalosjos’ mother, Angelina, has also been making
emotional public appeals to President Arroyo asking that she
use her powers to pardon her son. A petition requesting his
pardon that had gained the signatures of over 50 House
members as of late last year is being revived and circulated
in the House in a bid to get further endorsements. Secretary
of Justice Raul Gonzales, when asked about the case by the
press, has given equivocal statements indicating that he
might consider recommending that a pardon be issued on
medical grounds.

¶3. (C) Claims of “Payback”: Opposition politicians, figures
in the Catholic Church, and NGOs working in the
anti-trafficking area have bitterly criticized the effort to
pardon Jalosjos. They assert that he does not merit a pardon
given the seriousness of his crime, adding that his claimed
medical condition is nothing but a ruse. The criticism from
these sectors also involves claims that Malacanang may grant
the pardon as a way “to pay back” the Jalosjos clan for its
political support. Ronnie Zamora, an Opposition Congressman,
told Acting Pol/C on September 23 that he believed that
Malacanang might want to grant the pardon because Cesar
Jalosjos and Cecilia Jalosjos Carreon had supported the
President by voting against the Opposition’s impeachment
complaint earlier this month (ref a). Zamora added: “The
Jalosjos clan is very important in the House and in the
Zamboanga area, and Arroyo needs its continued support.”
Zamora added that Malacanang might be reluctant to grant the
pardon because “there will be hell to pay if it does — Romeo
Jalosjos is known to be a bad character.”

¶4. (C) No Clear Signals from the Palace: Malacanang has
neither confirmed nor denied the reports. In a September 26
meeting with Acting Pol/C, Gabriel “Gabby” Claudio, Arroyo’s
chief adviser on political affairs, commented that he was not
certain, but said he did not believe that the President was
actively considering a pardon. He added that he had asked
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita about the matter and he
(Ermita) said he had not heard that there was any such move
afoot. Claudio remarked that Romeo Jalosjos and the rest of
his family were known to be very close to Norberto “Bert”
Gonzales, the National Security Adviser. (Note: The
Jalosjos’ are members of a political party, “Partido
Demokratikong Sosyalista ng Pilipinas,” headed by Gonzales.
End Note.) Claudio said he did not know whether Bert
Gonzales was pressing the matter, but he said it as “very

¶5. (C) Further Background: As also touched on in ref b,
Jalosjos was already a long-time politician when police
arrested him in 1997. He received two life term sentences in
1998 and is currently serving his time at the national
penitentiary located south of Manila. When arrested,
Jalosjos was a popular representative from Zamboanga del
Norte. Despite his conviction and imprisonment, he won
reelection to the House in both 1998 and 2001 (his seat
remained vacant during those terms). The 65-year-old
Jalosjos reportedly still wields considerable political power
even from prison and his family remains very influential
(aside from his brother and sister in Congress, another
brother is the mayor of Dapitan, a large city in Zamboanga
del Norte). In addition, Jalosjos, once a television
producer and the owner of a luxury resort, enjoys strong
support from many in the entertainment industry.

¶6. (C) Comment: The notion that the Palace might be
contemplating a pardon tends to highlight President Arroyo’s
continued insecurity over her political position. Many
observers have commented that Malacanang, weakened by recent
scandals, may be entering into a “transactional” mode of
governance wherein it is forced to cut deals with members of
the House and Senate, and others in order to keep its head
above water. Pardoning a convicted child rapist for
transparent political reasons would be just about the worst
form that such transactions could take. If a pardon is
granted, it would also be a very bad message on the
trafficking in persons (TIP) front where the Philippines has
a very serious problem.
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