Lawyers ask DOJ Sec to protect witnesses vs Cong. Ecleo

PROSECUTORS and two lawyers' groups have asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to reconsider its decision terminating from the Witness Protection Program (WPP) the five prosecution witnesses in the parricide case against Dinagat IsLand Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr. because "serious threats" still hound them.

Prosecution lawyer Kit Enriquez said they wrote Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, requesting her to return the five witnesses, who are all members of the Bacolod family, under the justice department's protection program.

"We feel that the witnesses should be afforded enough protection," Enriquez said.

The Cebu City and province's chapters of Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) also passed a joint resolution seeking reconside-ration of the DOJ's removal of the Bacolod siblings from the WPP.

De Lima, in a memorandum dated April 13, terminated from the DOJ's protection program starting June 1 five of six prosecution witnesses in the parricide suit against Ecleo, saying the threat on the lives of the witnesses has been "reduced to minimal level."

Only Josebel Bacolod, the 30-year-old younger brother of slain Alona Bacolod-Ecleo, remains under the DOJ-WPP.

However, Enriquez said the Bacolod siblings are not just ordinary witnesses, but complainants in the case.

Ecleo is the supreme master of the religious group, Philippine Benevolent Mission-aries Association (PBMA).

Ecleo, who denied murder-ing his wife in 2002, has allegedly been eluding law enforcers after the Sandigan-bayan and the lower court issued arrest warrants against him for graft charges. (PNA/GSD)

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