Lawyer reveals ‘bribery attempt’

A prosecution lawyer yesterday revealed an alleged bribery attempt to convince siblings of murder victim Alona Bacolod to withdraw the ciminal charges against her husband, cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr.

In open court, lawyer Kit Enriquez said a certain “Alex” sent text messages asking Ricky, Josebil, and Nino Bacolod to execute an affidavit of desistance against Ecleo.

The allegation was later denied.

Enriquez said Alex vowed to deliver P4 million if the Bacolods decide to drop the parricide charges filed against the cult leader.

To verify the allegations, Enriquez asked Alona's first-degree cousin Alexander if he was the one who made the offer.

Alexander, a draftsman of the Provincial and Planning Development Office in Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte, was cross-examined yesterday by Enriquez before Regional Trial Court Judge Soliver Peras of Branch 10.

He denied the allegations saying he was not Ecleo's emissary.

Alexander, who is a member of Ecleo’s group, the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association, earlier testified that Ecleo was worried and wanted to locate his missing wife. He said Ecleo asked him to look for habal-habal drivers to search neighboring towns.

Enriquez noted inconsistencies in Alexander’s account to the court.

For example, he testified that the first time he set foot in Cebu was when he testified last Nov. 24, but during the cross-examination, the witness said he was in Cebu in 2009.

“They can make up stories like this. This is a planted witness,” Enriquez told the court

Enriquez also pointed out that Alexander who earlier claimed to be close to Alona hasn't visited her grave and didn't find ways to communicate with the victim's family after her death.

“He (Alexander) is not a credible witness. He is more close to Ruben (Ecleo) than Alona,” Enriquez told reporters after the hearing.

Judge Soliver also raised a query and asked if Ecleo has several men, why send Alexander to look for habal-habal drivers.

Ecleo is facing parricide charges for the death of his wife Alona on Jan. 5, 2002.

He posted P1 million bail after a physician testified that he needed immediate medical attention for his heart condition.

Ecleo was recently discharged from a hospital in Manila. The judge ordered his defense lawyer to present cardiologist Dr. Roberto Anastacio on Jan. 12. (Cebu Daily News)

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