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Ecleo appeal on graft convictions junked

The Sandiganbayan First Division has upheld for the second time its October 13, 2006 verdict convicting former San Jose, Surigao del Norte mayor Ruben Ecleo Jr. in three counts of graft concerning alleged fraudulent payments to a private contractor for construction projects worth P2.86 million.

Associate Justice Norberto Geraldez, division chairman, penned the three-page resolution dismissing Ecleo’s second motion for reconsideration for being a rehash of his old arguments that were already overruled by the graft court.

Likewise, the Sandiganbayan said the motion was barred by the rules.

“It must be stated, at the outset, that accused Ecleo's instant second motion for reconsideration partakes the nature of a pro-forma motion which is prohibited under the Rules of Court," the court declared.

Associate Justices Rodolfo A.Ponferrada and Alexander G. Gesmundo concurred.

Ecleo was sentenced to 31 years imprisonment while his co-accused, former municipal planning and development coordinator Anadelia Navarra and private contractor contractor Ricardo Santillano of PBMA Builders were each sentenced to 21 years jailterms.

Graft investigators from the Office of the Ombudsman found that Ecleo approved the payments even when the public market and the supposed new municipal building were mere "concrete-and-steel skeletons" while the purported guesthouse turned out to be a building for a private organization.

“After painstaking review of accused Ecleo's second motion, the Court found no compelling reasons to change or modify the Resolution dated May 7, 2009, sought to be reconsidered,” the court said.

Ecleo, son of Dinagat Islands Rep. Glenda Ecleo, is the “supreme master” of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), a religious group.

In mid-2002, 22 of his followers died during a shootout with police officers who tried to serve a warrant of arrest against him at the PBMA compound in Dinagat, Surigao del Norte in connection with a parricide case against Ecleo for the death of his wife. (abs-cbnnews.com)

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