ILIGAN CITY -- The “yellow fever” has caught on the Jalosjos clan during Monday’s midterm polls, frustrating its aggressive appetite for dynastic expansion and trimming its political empire to its motley beginnings in 2001.
As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, only one of 14 clan members managed to clinch an elective seat: Dapitan City councilor Rosalina Jalosjos–Johnson, who won as mayor.
Another clan member, re-electionist first district Representative Seth Frederick Jalosjos is still fighting to keep his post amid the strong numbers from challenger Vicente Balisado.
Sources from both the Liberal Party (LP) and the Jalosjos camp said the numbers are too close to call. But as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, Seth Frederick leads by 1,311 votes, as shown in the transparency server of the Commission on Elections (Comelec). One LP source said he might be able to win the race.
Rosalina is the elder sister of Jalosjos patriarch Romeo Sr. who, in turn, is Seth Frederick’s father.
For the 2013 polls, the clan fielded six members for various posts in Zamboanga del Norte, four in Zamboanga del Sur, two in Zamboanga Sibugay, one in Misamis Occidental, and one in Zamboanga City with Romeo Sr. himself as candidate.
Unfortunately, his candidacy, along with brother Dominador Jr. for Zamboanga del Sur governor, was thrashed by the Comelec due to their respective convictions for criminal offenses: robbery for Dominador and rape for Romeo Sr.
The twin disqualifications were the earliest setback for the clan’s aggressive dynastic expansion in the Zamboanga Peninsula.
The Jalosjoses ran under the Nacionalista Party (NP) in Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga Sibugay, and with LP in Misamis Occidental and Zamboanga del Sur.
Reelected Dipolog City mayor Evelyn Tang-Uy credits the strong backing of President Benigno Aquino III for the LP’s ability to strike a fatal blow on the Jalosjos clan’s grip on local power.
Being identified with Team PNoy made it easy for the LP to rally local politicians under their wings, said Tang-Uy.
The clan’s recent defeat in Zamboanga del Norte is a major upset. Along with allies, it has maintained a strong grip on the province, except for Dipolog City and the second congressional district.
In Zamboanga del Norte, the LP is led by the long-time alliance of business families Uy and Amatong. In Zamboanga Sibugay, the LP is led by the Hofer family whom the Jalosjos clan dislodged from power in 2010.
But the clan failed to deploy the “yellow fever” to its advantage in Zamboanga del Sur and in Baliangao, Misamis Occidental. In Zamboanga del Sur, it faced the equally entrenched Cerilles dynasty. In Baliangao, Misamis Occidental, Romeo Sr.’s daughter Svetlana squared off with local dynast Agne Yap, whom she defeated by a six-vote margin in 2010.
Rosalina was proclaimed mayor-elect Tuesday after a grueling electoral battle. She garnered 18,031 votes, trouncing re-electionist mayor Agapito Cardino, a retired Army colonel.
Her victory signals the Jalosjos clan’s retaking the leadership of Dapitan City, the main seat of its dynastic rule as well as flagship businesses.
The clan has ruled Dapitan since 2001 when Romeo Sr.’s brother-in-law, Rodolfo Carreon Jr. cut short the post-1986 reign of the Adasas.
Carreon’s uncle used to rule Dapitan from 1963 to 1986 when the revolutionary government of Corazon Aquino replaced him with an Adasa.
By the 2004 polls, Carreon gave way to another brother-in-law, Dominador Jr., to run and take over the mayoral seat.
The Jalosjos clan lost grip of Dapitan when the Supreme Court voided the 2010 mayoral candidacy of Dominador Jr. because he was convicted with finality for robbery. This paved the way for Cardino’s takeover of the post last January.
But months earlier, Dominador Jr. relinquished the post to vice mayor Patri Chan, a close ally, to prepare for his gubernatorial run in Zamboanga del Sur.
Carreon’s reign in 2001 signalled the Jalosjos clan’s first successful attempt at political expansion. From there, its dynastic empire grew.
The clan’s political clout started in 1995 when Romeo Sr. won as representative of Zamboanga del Norte’s first district. Despite being jailed in 1997 for raping a minor, he managed to win two more terms.
When he was expelled from the House in 2001 on account of the finality of his rape conviction, Romeo Sr. managed to have her sister, Cecilia Jalosjos-Carreon, elected to replace him.
By 2004, more siblings of Romeo Sr. and second-generation clan members joined politics. By 2010, during the general and barangay elections, the Jalosjos clan was able to catapult 11 members into elective office.
Its successful venture into Zamboanga Sibugay, through taking its gubernatorial post and the congressional seat in the second district, came as a surprise to many other dynasties in the region.