Court asked to stop Ecleo arrest

Lawyers of Dinagat Island Representative Ruben Ecleo Jr. on Thursday asked Judge Soliver Peras to defer the issuance of an arrest warrant against the embattled cult leader in relation to his parricide case.

They argued that the court "may have overlooked the fact that the accused has been exhausting all the procedural remedies concerning his Sandiganbayan case." They also cited Ecleo's heart ailment in their motion.

Defense lawyers Giovanni Mata and Orlando Salatandre requested Peras, presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court branch 10, to put off the issuance of an arrest warrant.

If the judge has already issued the warrant, the lawyers asked Peras to recall it.

"The accused earnestly begs for the indulgence and compassion of this honorable court to give him a last chance until the pending incidences with the Supreme Court shall have been resolved," Ecleo's five-page motion for reconsideration read.

Cancelled bail

Last April 6, Judge Peras ordered the cancellation of Ecleo's P1-million bail for ignoring his scheduled hearings of the parricide case against him for the death of his wife, Alona Bacolod-Ecleo, in 2002.

But the defense lawyers reiterated that "extreme legal predicament" on the conviction of his three graft cases by the anti-graft court besets Ecleo.

They assured, though, that the cult leader has "no plan of absconding from the folds of justice."

While the petition for review on certiorari filed at the Supreme Court was denied on technical grounds, the defense lawyers said Ecleo filed a motion for reconsideration, which is still pending with the High Court.

The lawmaker also filed another pleading before the Supreme Court asking for the deferment of the arrest warrant issued by Sandiganbayan. The petition is also pending at the High Tribunal.

Sick

"For which reason, the accused, as part of due process, has just been exhausting all the available remedies to protect his rights and interest considering that his liberty, health and even life are at stake if the warrant of arrest issued by the Sandiganbayan is served," the lawyers said.

Saying the accused has coronary artery illness, for which the court has recommended that he undergo a heart surgery, the lawyers said putting Ecleo behind jail will "jeopardize his health, and might lead to any untoward medical problem and even death."

"It was recently learned that the accused was being prepared physically, mentally and emotionally for his impending heart bypass operation," the lawyers said. (GMD of Sun.Star Cebu)

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