Speaker wants to know status of cult leader-turned-solon

Just how did cult leader Ruben Ecelo Jr. get out of jail and into the halls of Congress? Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. wants to find out.

Prompted by a Philippine Daily Inquirer report saying that Ecleo was allowed to leave jail because of severe heart ailment even though the crime he allegedly committed was non-bailable, Belmonte said he would ask about the real status of the lawmaker.

“I wasn’t aware about the case of Ecleo, I only knew about it yesterday. . . yes, we have to find out exactly what is his status,” Belmonte told reporters in an interview.

Ecleo, 55, was allowed out of jail six years ago for humanitarian considerations after his cardiologist told the court that he was a walking time bomb and could die any time of coronary heart disease.

But prosecutors now want him back in jail, saying he was not really sick.
Ecleo, supreme leader of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), was charged with parricide for the death of his wife, Alona, on Jan. 5, 2002. The couple was then living in Sitio (sub-village) Banawa, Barangay (village) Guadalupe, Cebu City.
Alona’s body was placed inside a garbage bag and dumped in a ravine in Dalaguete, a southern town of Cebu.

Asked if the House would provide refuge for Ecleo in case his bail got cancelled, Belmonte said, “No.”

“In fact, he won’t be able to get his salary if he cannot render service here because he is prevented by the official action of another government body,” he added.

“According to newspaper accounts, representations were made that he is super sick and he has to be operated on or something, now I understand that the court there are scheduling hearings on this on the question of the bail, . . . for humanitarian considerations, . . . but definitely we are going to find out what’s the real score,” Belmonte said.

Ecleo won in the May 10 elections to claim a seat for the lone congressional district of Dinagat Island. Ecleo replaced his mother, Glenda, who is listed as one of the richest lawmakers in the chamber. (inquirer.net)

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