Sandigan: Rep. Ecleo's Conviction is Final, Appeal Dismissed

The Sandiganbayan First Division on Monday dismissed Dinagat Island Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr.’s eleventh-hour attempt to keep himself from being arrested, following his conviction on three counts of graft in 2006.

In a one-page order, the anti-graft court denied Ecleo’s motion to recall his warrant of arrest, citing the adverse rulings of the Supreme Court against the lawmaker’s contentions.

“(T) he Court resolves to deny the motion, the accused himself having acknowledged in his motion that… the Honorable Supreme Court had issued entries of judgment on the different petitions he had filed before that Court," the Sandiganbayan said.

“Hence, the Decision herein had become final and executory, and the warrant of arrest against the accused was properly issued as a matter of course," it added.

Ecleo, who is the “supreme master" of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), filed the motion on Feb. 14 through lawyers Lucas C. Carpio Jr. and Jose Ventura Aspiras.

Ecleo said in his motion the arrest warrant failed to take note of a third petition now pending before the SC, in which he filed to challenge the guilty verdict against him.

Only two petitions mentioned

The resolution of the Sandiganbayan ordering his arrest only mentioned two petitions, Ecleo maintained in his motion.

The Sandiganbayan's First Division on Jan. 28 issued a new arrest warrant on Ecleo after the SC affirmed in November 2010 the anti-graft court’s decision to convict Ecleo and two other local officials of graft.

Ecleo was convicted on his alleged involvement in anomalous construction deals when he was still mayor of San Jose town, Surigao del Norte from 1991 to 1994.

Government auditors discovered that the public market and the supposed new municipal building were mere “concrete-and-steel skeletons", while a supposed guesthouse was found to be occupied by a private organization.

Ecleo gained national attention in June 2002 when 22 of his followers and a policeman were killed in a firefight at the PBMA compound on Dinagat Island off Surigao del Norte.

Unharmed, he surrendered shortly after the incident to the police and military forces trying to arrest him as a suspect in the brutal murder of his wife, Alona Bacolod Ecleo, and her parents. — JA/VS, GMA News

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