By PNA and U.S. News Agency / Asian
The warrant of arrest issued by a Cebu City court against cult leader and Dinagat Island Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr., who is facing a parricide charge for the death of his wife Alona Bacolod-Ecleo in January 2002, has remained unenforced.
Reports said the supreme master of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) no longer resides in San Jose, Dinagat Island.
Lawyer Kit Enriquez, one of the private prosecutors in the case against Ecleo, said Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) operatives in the Caraga Region returned the arrest warrant for Ecleo to the court after a barangay captain in the town issued a certification to CIDG operatives that Ecleo has not lived there for a year.
“There’s a doubt in our mind that law enforcers might be afraid to implement the warrant of arrest against Ecleo,” Enriquez said.
Ecleo went into hiding after Regional Trial Court Branch 10 Presiding Judge Soliver Peras issued an arrest warrant against him last April for ignoring the hearings for his case in Cebu.
Peras canceled Ecleo’s P1-million bail for snubbing the hearings.
Ecleo’s failure to show up at his trial in Cebu came after the Sandiganbayan First Division issued a warrant for his arrest on Jan. 28.
The Supreme Court affirmed his conviction and that of two co-accused for their involvement in three anomalous construction projects while Ecleo was mayor of San Jose, Dinagat Island from 1991 to 1994.
Defense lawyers sought a review of the judge’s order, but Peras affirmed his April 6 order cancelling Ecleo’s P1-million bail.
Enriquez said he is not convinced Ecleo is no longer in San Jose, Dinagat Island.
“Probably the law enforcers did not verify the certification issued by the barangay captain,” he said.
Twenty-three people died when CIDG Caraga operatives, assisted by provincial policemen and soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 20th Infantry Battalion, arrested Ecleo in his Dinagat Island mansion on June 18, 2002.
Enriquez said this is probably the reason law enforcers are afraid to serve the latest warrant.
He said they have asked the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to implement the warrant.
Another prosecution lawyer, Alfredo Sipalay, said the prosecution has also been working to expel Ecleo from the House of Representatives.
“The Congress itself should act on it. We reiterate to the Congress to drop Ecleo from the House because the decision of the Sandiganbayan was final,” Sipalay said.