Jalosjos is new political kingpin of Zambo Peninsula

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Friday, May 14, 2010


FORMER Zamboanga del Norte representative Romeo Jalosjos Sr., a convicted child rapist, emerged as the new political kingpin of two nearby provinces.

From his political dominion in Zamboanga del Norte, Jalosjos managed to expand his influence over Zamboanga Sibugay by winning the proxy war with the Hofer dynasty through the candidacy of his sons and newfound allies.

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On Thursday morning, the Zamboanga Sibugay provincial board of canvassers (PBOC) proclaimed Rommel Jalosjos as the winning governor who will replace outgoing provincial chief executive George Hofer Sr.

Rommel battled with Hofer's daughter, Representative Dulce Ann Hofer, amid disqualification charges leveled against his candidacy.

Romeo Jr., more known as Jon-jon, also bagged the congressional seat representing the second district in a tightly fought race with Hofer's son George II.

A newfound Jalosjos ally, reelectionist Ipil town Mayor Eldwin Alibutdan trounced Hofer in the mayoral contest. His running mate, Jose Tiu, also succumbed to another Jalosjos ally.

Both Hofer and Tiu are among the pioneers in the movement to create a new province out of the then third legislative district of Zamboanga del Sur.

Then its representative, Hofer authored the law creating Zamboanga Sibugay in 2001 and was elected its first governor. Daughter Dulce Ann later followed his political footsteps by becoming congressional representative in the second district while son George II is provincial administrator.

Part of the Jalosjos camp's strength in Zamboanga Sibugay came from an alliance with the family of outgoing Representative Belma Cabilao.

A Cabilao kin, Jonathan Yambao, is taking over the congressional seat in the first district.

Another alliance is with the Ipil-based Olegario family; its kin, Rey Andre, takes the vice gubernatorial post while Anamel earned the vice mayoralty of Ipil.

Further, nine of 10 elected members of the provincial legislative board are aligned with the Jalosjos camp.

Although the rout suffered by the Hofers freshen the political landscape, its main signal is the dominance of another dynasty over Zamboanga Sibugay politics.

Home-court

At home, Jalosjos' kin and minions dominate the political race in most localities.

Younger brother and look-alike Dominador retained the Dapitan City mayoral seat while also battling with a disqualification case.

Son Seth takes the congressional seat representing the first district while brother Cesar retains the seat in the third district. Sister Cecilia Jalosjos Carreon, currently a three-term representative of the first district, takes the mayoral post of Piñan town where her family is based.

Lawyer Rolando Yebes, a retired Customs official who is a Jalosjos ally, was reelected governor amid the strong challenge posed by former governor Isagani Amatong.

But Yebes' son Ronald failed to grab the congressional seat in the second district from incumbent Representative Rosendo Labdlabad.

In many localities, except Dipolog City and Jose Dalman town, the top posts are mostly held by Jalosjos allies.

Inroad

Jalosjos also made inroad into Misamis Occidental politics by the victory of daughter Svetlana as mayor of impoverished and sleepy Baliangao town.

Svetlana, an artist, currently runs the family's entertainment venture Fantasyland in Dapitan.

As of 12 noon of Thursday, Svetlana was only awaiting to be proclaimed after edging Agne Yap Sr. by only six votes.

Svetlana's political battle is largely helped by an alliance with other members of the Yap brood who were disgruntled by unmet power-sharing agreements among family members.

Jalosjos have long had proxy battles with the Baliangao-based Yaps, beginning in 1992 over the mayoralty of Rizal town in Zamboanga del Norte where they planned to expand politically.

Jalosjos have been backing the Cebedo family in Rizal, a neighbor town of Sapang Dalaga where the Yap also held power.

The May 10 polls saw a Cebedo family ally, and presumably a Jalosjos ally by extension, in Sapang Dalaga routing the Yaps. The son-and-father tandem of Donjie and Manuel Animas swept through the polls against the mother-and-son tandem of Pacita and Ruel Yap.

Since 2004, the Animas family has held at bay the political comeback of the Yaps in Sapang Dalaga.

The expansion of Jalosjos' political influence is largely driven by entrenched political machinery at home and the willingness to spend a fortune to win power.

For the past decade, Jalosjos was instrumental in clinching the successive electoral victories of staunch allies and family members in Zamboanga del Norte which remains as the country's poorest according to the 2006 poverty indicators of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

In 2004, he delivered a significant lead for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the presidential race in Zamboanga del Norte, which is supposedly repaid by commutation of his sentence and eventual grant of pardon.

Jalosjos did this feat even while incarcerated at the New Bilibid Prisons. Even in detention while undergoing trial, Jalosjos managed to be reelected into a congressional seat which was later stripped from him by colleagues shortly after his guilty verdict.

Nonong, as Jalosjos is known in Zamboanga del Norte, used to be an assemblyman of Batasan Pambansa. Largely due to the anti-Marcos fallout in the post-EDSA years, he lost a bid for governor. But he managed to return to the political circuit by working his way to a seat in the House of Representatives. (Ryan D. Rosauro)

Jalosjos new political kingpin zambo peninsula

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