Prosecution wants Ecleo to be their witness

TO find evidence to cancel his bail, prosecution lawyers have asked the court to summon cult leader and Dinagat Island Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr. to serve as their witness.

But the Philippine Benevolent Missionary Association leader’s lawyer, Orlando Salatandre, assailed the request of the prosecution, saying his client has the “right to remain silent.”

Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10 Judge Soliver Peras deferred to Aug. 25 the hearing on the prosecution’s motion to cancel Ecleo’s P 1-million bail, after the defendant failed to show up in yesterday’s hearing.

Lawyer Fritz Quiñanola, who is one of the members of the prosecution team, said they asked the court to summon Ecleo to appear in the next hearing, as he would serve as their “witness” in canceling his bail.

Ecleo’s lawyers continue to claim the cult leader, who was accused of killing his wife Alona Bacolod in 2002, is a “walking time bomb” and is scheduled to submit himself to a triple bypass surgery. But he has not gone under the knife, Quiñanola said.

Quiñanola said Ecleo, who was earlier said to undergo the surgery after his oathtaking last June 30, was spotted during President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s first State of the Nation Address (Sona) last month.

Salatandre said they will be filing a motion to quash the prosecution’s request, as using the defendant as the prosecution’s witness is not proper.

“If the prosecution (lawyers are) sincere in their motion, then they should prepare their own evidence,” he said.

He said the schedule for the surgery will depend on the defendant and his cardiologist, Dr. Roberto Anastacio.

Anastacio, a cardiologist from the Makati Medical Center, told the court Ecleo is considered a “walking time bomb” and any sudden weather changes could affect his condition.

Anastacio also said Ecleo’s condition will “seriously worsen” if he returns to jail.

On Ecleo’s attendance in Aquino’s Sona, Salatandre said the congressman shouldn’t be judged.

“Even the sick has the right to be happy,” he said. (sun-star.com)

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