House to remove Rep. Ecleo from roster in May

The House of Representatives will soon lose a member when Dinagat Island Representative Ruben Ecleo Jr. is removed from its roster next month.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the House intends to remove Ecleo from the list of 283 lawmakers when it receives the certified copy of the final and executory ruling of the Supreme Court on his graft case.

“He is still a member of Congress but by the time we reconvene, we have to make a decision on May 9. We have to take cognizance of the decision first before we announce it during plenary,” Belmonte said in a news conference.

“We can strike out his name but we just have to make sure and we can do that within the next few days after May 9,” he added.

Ecleo will be the second lawmakers to be dropped form the House roll in months, after Ilocos Sur Representative Ronald Singson resigned after he was convicted for drug trafficking in a Hong Kong court.

In the case of Ecleo, however, Belmonte said he sees no indication that the Dinagat Island lawmaker will voluntarily leave his post.

On October 13, 2006, the Sandiganbayan First Division convicted Ecleo and two others, and sentenced them to 18- to 31-and-a-half years' imprisonment in connection with alleged fund disbursements in three construction projects undertaken during his term as mayor of San Jose, Dinagat, Surigao del Norte between 1991 to 1994.

Ecleo, son of former Surigao del Norte Representative Glenda Ecleo, is the "supreme master" of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA).

Belmonte said he’s studying the option of appointing a caretaker for the district, and even broached the idea that he could oversee it himself, but added that he has never been to the area. (Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, InterAksyon)

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