Poll win may cost Ecleo bail

Prosecutors in the parricide case against congressman-elect Ruben Ecleo Jr. will cite his victory in last Monday's elections to persuade a Cebu judge to cancel his P1-million bail.

"Ecleo's victory is our evidence that he is not a walking time bomb," lawyer Fritz Quiñanola told Sun.Star Cebu in a phone interview.

Ecleo, who is on trial for the death of his wife, was granted bail six years ago.

But the fact that he ran, campaigned and won in the lone district of Dinagat Islands proves he is not seriously ill, contrary to what his cardiologist told the trial court, said Quiñanola.

Ecleo's lawyer, Orlando Salatandre, said his client is entitled to his civil rights, including his rights to vote and seek public office.

Salatandre said the latest argument of the prosecution is "too personal."

"No one is above the law. No one must arrogate for himself any authority that does not exist," Salatandre said in a text message.

He pointed out the campaign was not that strenuous for the former mayor because politics in Dinagat Islands is "different."

"Almost all voters there are PBMA (Philippine Benevolent Missionary Association) members. They (Ecleos) do not campaign. Instead, it's the voter who comes to them and even contributes for the activities," said Salatandre.

"Besides, health matters are beyond their (prosecution lawyers') competence. Who knows, campaign activities may be good therapy," Salatandre added.

Ecleo won as representative of the lone district of Dinagat Islands in northeastern Mindanao, with 33,582 votes or 86.05 percent of the votes cast.

He defeated Francisco Rojas Sr. of the Liberal Party by a margin of 28,139 votes.

Ecleo's mother, incumbent Dinagat Islands Representative Glenda Ecleo, also won the gubernatorial race after obtaining 33,895 votes compared to her closest contender, Harry Meso of the Liberal Party, who got 5,029 votes.

Ecleo's sister, Gwendolyn, ran unopposed for mayor of Dinagat town, Dinagat Island.

Last March 17, Dr. Roberto Anastacio of the Makati Medical Center discussed former mayor Ecleo's heart ailment as he testified before Judge Soliver Peras of the Regional Trial Court Branch 10.

Anastacio has said he advised Ecleo to think seriously about undergoing surgery, given the "very significant level" of progress in his ailment and the need to improve blood flow to his heart.

In his presentation, which lasted about two hours, Anastacio said a severe blockage was found in Ecleo's heart arteries.

He told the court Ecleo is still a "walking time bomb" who could suffer from a sudden change of weather or a "perturbed environment."

Quiñanola said the former mayor's health condition is not a ground to disqualify him from public office, but added the man is "mocking our judicial system."

Quiñanola said the prosecutor will present their arguments when trial resumes on May 19. The prosecution will cross-examine Dr. Anastacio about his medical findings, as they press their bid for Ecleo to undergo detention again.

Ecleo was granted bail less than 21 months after he was first detained to face a parricide charge. (GMD/Sun.Star Cebu)

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