Ecleo to appeal murder conviction, says sisterBy Franklin A. Caliguid
BUTUAN CITY – The family of Dinagat Island’s Representative Ruben Ecleo Jr. will appeal the ruling of a Cebu trial court finding him guilty of parricide and sentencing him to life imprisonment for killing his wife.
Dinagat Island’s Vice Governor Jade Ecleo, younger sister of the convicted lawmaker, said her family would contest the court decision and prove her brother’s innocence.
Ecleo described the guilty verdict as “a world collapsing on our shoulders” that left the whole Ecleo clan shocked and depressed.
“Literally, it was like the world collapsed on our shoulders. We will appeal it and our family hopes for the best and positive answer,” Ecleo told the Inquirer by phone.
Ecleo also urged their political supporters and followers of the religious cult the Ecleos founded, the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), who were “mourning” the conviction of their leader to stay calm and to respect the rule of law.
“The whole PBMA is mourning this conviction,” she said.
She theorized the repeated failure of the lawmaker to attend court hearings might have invited the ire of Cebu Judge Soliver Peras and motivated him to render an adverse ruling.
“The judge could have been challenged by Ruben’s failure to attend the hearings so he was convicted,” she said.
The vice-governor, however, debunked reports that the lawmaker had left the country to evade sentence.
Ecleo said she had spoken to her elder brother over the phone and discussed with him his legal options.
“He did not leave for abroad and still is in the country. Ruben is not a fool and dumb enough to live a life of a fugitive because he knows the law,” Ecleo said.
She said the impression she got was that Ruben, the “supreme master” of the PBMA, would surrender himself to authorities and respect judicial processes.
“I am confident that he will surrender but as to when, I don’t know. The soonest possible time the better,” she said.
Ecleo said she told him that his legal battle would tilt in their favor if he would voluntarily surrender and face his fate.
“Our is a country governed by laws and no one is above it. Even former presidents and prominent people got jailed and we have to live with that reality,” she said.