Jalosjos’s expanding political clout

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I AM heading back to Cebu after a few days’ vacation in my hometown in Olingan, Dipolog City. I am in the high seas between Zamboanga peninsula, Negros Oriental and Cebu on board a vessel of Lite Shipping Lines, which plies the Pulawan, Dapitan City to Samboan, Cebu route.

This route, which is exclusively serviced by Lite Shipping, has made travel from Cebu and the Zamboanga peninsula area more accessible and convenient. But there are also passenger and cargo vessels that serve the Cebu, Dumaguete and Dapitan routes, like those from Cokaliong Lines, George and Peter Lines and Ocean Jet.

Fish dealers, cargo carriers and individual passengers, especially those bringing their cars from Zamboanga to Cebu and vice versa, prefer this route I am taking because of its shorter travel time. You arrive at your destination within a day.

We left Pulawan port at 7 a.m. and will arrive in Samboan wharf at around 12:30. We will then drive around two hours from Samboan to the city. I am in a nice and safe trip because the weather is fine.
***
The Jalosjos family, whose acknowledged political kingpin is former congressman Romeo “Nonong” Jalosjos Jr., is now an emerging political dynasty in the province of Zamboanga del Norte. This despite Nonong's debacle when he was jailed for more than a decade after he was convicted of statutory rape.

The Jalosjos family lords it over two out of three congressional districts in the province. Romeo's son, Bullet, is representative of the first district, which includes Dapitan City. Nonong’s younger brother and look-alike, Dominador, is mayor of Dapitan. Cesar, another brother, is on his last term as congressman in the third district, which includes the critical areas of Sibuco, Saraway and Siocon.

Not only that. The Jalosjos family has expanded its political reach to Zamboanga-Sibugay province. Nonong’s sons, Romeo and Rommel, both newcomers, are now governor and congressman, respectively, of that place. They wiped out the formidable Hofer clan in last year's elections. The Hofers’ patriarch, whose roots are from Argao, Cebu, was responsible for the creation of the Zamboanga-Sibugay province, which used to be part of Zamboanga del Sur.

According to sources, Jalosjos’s political agenda in 2013 is to invade and have full control of the neighboring province of Misamis Occidental. This has become apparent after Nonong’s daughter, Lanah, snagged the post of mayor of the town of Baliangao in last year's election. Lanah won by only six votes against a member of the Yap family, which controlled the politics of that town for several decades. I heard that Jalosjos will field candidates for governor and congressman in that province in the 2013 polls.

Nonong is a political ally of Zamboanga del Norte Gov. Rolando Yebes. The only areas in the province that Jalosjos does not control are the second district and Dipolog City. Second district Rep. Rosendo “Dodoy” Labadlabad is on his second term. Dipolog City is controlled by the Uy family. The incumbent mayor, Evelyn Uy, is now on her last term.

Many Chinese businessmen in the city are opposing the entry of Jalosjos in the area. They are afraid that their businesses will suffer once Jalosjos gains political control of the city.

These political developments in my home province disappointed me because money still rules the elections there. Where can you find a place that has a vote-buying rate in every election of as high as P2,000 per voter? And yet, Zamboanga del Norte is among the poorest provinces in the country based on previous poverty incidence surveys. Pagkawa’y ayo.

(bobby@sunstar.com.ph)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 01, 2011.

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