Reiteration

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In 1997, Romeo Jalosjos was convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl.  He was sentenced to two life terms for child rape.  Prison was an air-conditioned suite with cable television, air conditioning, burger stands, and tennis courts; all to serve his functions and responsibilities as a member of the House of Representatives.  After 12 years of paying his debt to society – his sentence commuted for good conduct – he walks free, and this child rapist seeks full pardon from no less than the President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.  Romeo Jalosjos, a convicted child rapist, is seeking his seat back in the hallowed halls of Congress.

There must be some feeling of outrage, no matter how silent or repressed, in the gall of one Romeo Jalosjos – convicted child rapist – to seek pardon from something that, beyond all reasonable doubt, he was found guilty of.  Jalosjos, for the longest time, has been portrayed as the most privileged prisoner in the Philippine penal system; surrounded by every deduction to human society, Jalosjos still enjoyed a life unimaginable for many even outside prison walls.  Jalosjos was the epitome of it all: when crime pays, it pays good.  With the brazen pride expected of unrepentant criminals who are imprisoned precisely to be restituted and rehabilitated, Jalosjos flaunted about.  For all intents and purposes, he got away with it.

So I reiterate: In 1997, Romeo Jalosjos was convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl.  He was sentenced to two life terms for child rape.  Prison was an air-conditioned suite with cable television, air conditioning, burger stands, and tennis courts; all to serve his functions and responsibilities as a member of the House of Representatives.  After 12 years of paying his debt to society – his sentence commuted for good conduct – he walks free, and this child rapist seeks full pardon from no less than the President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.  Romeo Jalosjos, a convicted child rapist, is seeking his seat back in the hallowed halls of Congress.

Prison could – and would have – rehabilitated Romeo Jalosjos; if not turn him into a better Congressman, it would have turned him into the kind of human being who would not ever consider, even in the remotest corners of his imagination, do what he did to that girl.  Yet it seems that Jalosjos has moved past that more than we ever did.  Further, considering the circumstances of his crime.  We saw the repentance of people in death row, or the changed lives of those who walked into freedom from their days in prison.  Certainly not Romeo Jalosjos, challenging the conventions of restitution and rehabilitation and gallingly – brazenly – seeks absolution for a crime that he should, by law, served two life terms for.

Again, I reiterate: In 1997, Romeo Jalosjos was convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl.  He was sentenced to two life terms for child rape.  Prison was an air-conditioned suite with cable television, air conditioning, burger stands, and tennis courts; all to serve his functions and responsibilities as a member of the House of Representatives.  After 12 years of paying his debt to society – his sentence commuted for good conduct – he walks free, and this child rapist seeks full pardon from no less than the President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.  Romeo Jalosjos, a convicted child rapist, is seeking his seat back in the hallowed halls of Congress.

We are best left with the courts to decide on the matter of Jalosjos’ bid, but it goes to show us that shame – a lost commodity – is not something we should expect or take for granted.  Indeed, maybe his constituents love him.  Indeed, maybe his colleagues respect him.  Perhaps the graphic, detailed rape of an 11-year-old girl at Dakak that was brazenly and shamelessly published in tabloids 12 years ago would have been forgotten, and that all of that would have been forgiven, and we have but a very distant, fading memory that at one point in our lives, Jalosjos’ name stood for that of a child rapist, a privileged prisoner, filth looked upon as gold.  We forgive and forget, and if he wins, we probably don’t have the need to remember and to recall.  Those who do have to reiterate.

Before all of this is forgotten: in 1997, Romeo Jalosjos was convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl.  He was sentenced to two life terms for child rape.  Prison was an air-conditioned suite with cable television, air conditioning, burger stands, and tennis courts; all to serve his functions and responsibilities as a member of the House of Representatives.  After 12 years of paying his debt to society – his sentence commuted for good conduct – he walks free, and this child rapist seeks full pardon from no less than the President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.  Romeo Jalosjos, a convicted child rapist, is seeking his seat back in the hallowed halls of Congress.

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