Ecleo poll feud taking shape in Dinagat Islands

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Vice Gov. Geraldine “Jade” Ecleo

SAN JOSE, Dinagat Islands—Dinagat’s legal status may have been finally settled, but the young province is bracing for a clash brewing among members of the only family that it has known as leaders—the Ecleos.

Vice Gov. Geraldine “Jade” Ecleo, sworn in as Liberal Party (LP) member on Sept. 12, has declared that she will contest the reelection to a third term of her mother, Gov. Glenda B. Ecleo, a member of the Nacionalista Party (NP).

“I’m all set to run against my mom in next year’s elections,” the young Ecleo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an interview last week. “And I’m running with the best of intentions—to liberate our people from poverty and provide alternative leadership which the Dinagatnons have been deprived of these past few years.”

Jade, 42, served as political officer of her mother, who was then representative of the first district of Surigao del Norte, before she became Dinagat’s first elected governor in 2007 after Dinagat became a province. In 2010, she was elected vice governor, upon the advise of her mother, who ran for governor.

Jade’s rebuke of her mother’s leadership in the province capped the young politician’s tumultuous—often public—feud with her 72-year-old mother and siblings, who also hold various elective positions in the island.

Glenda, in her speeches, has described her daughter as insolent and hardheaded. Jade has railed about her family’s “excesses,” somewhat a taboo for an Ecleo, a surname that has long commanded respect, if not religious reverence, among members of the Philippine Benevolent Missionary Association (PBMA), which was founded by the patriarch Ruben Ecleo Sr.

Twenty-five years after his death, Ruben Sr. remains revered by PBMA members, whose votes are crucial for the family’s political hegemony. Here, it is not uncommon to hear locals imploring the blessing or help of the “Divine Master,” Ruben Sr., as any Catholic would pray to Jesus or saints.

But Jade has bewailed how this reverence has been handled irresponsibly by her siblings.

“When you’re an Ecleo, you’re automatically identified as a leader, whether you are capable or not,” she said. “I want to change that notion. I want the people to choose their leaders based on their capabilities, not on their surnames.”

This is why she enlisted Akbayan Rep. Kaka Bag-o, a native of Loreto town and whose party is in coalition with LP, to run for Dinagat’s lone congressional seat, she said. The post was held by her elder brother, Ruben Ecleo Jr., until he was expelled by the House of Representatives following his conviction for corruption and parricide early this year.

Ruben Jr.’s imprisonment and convictions have also become a source of disagreement between Jade and her family. While her mother and siblings have kept their silence on Ruben Jr.’s status as a fugitive, Jade has publicly called on her brother to surrender.

“If you have a brother who is a fugitive, and sickly at that, will you tell him to go on hiding?” she said. “But I’m being misunderstood here. I want him inside a prison cell so that he can be taken care of, so that he may have a chance to live again as a free man.”

At a fiesta speech in the island village of Boa, Jade did not mince words as she warned her family against using Ruben Jr.’s influence in the PBMA as its “supreme master.”

“I can see that they will use my brother’s name for political gain. But the association (PBMA) has nothing to do with elections,” she told members of the local PBMA chapter. “Elections have everything to do with your welfare.”

The Supreme Court has ruled with finality that the law creating Dinagat Islands province out of Surigao del Norte in 2006 is constitutional.

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  • NYPinoy

    Thanks for family feuds, otherwise we would not a choice in Dinagat.  Thanks to God (or to Divine Master Ruben), now we finally have a contest — Ecleo vs. Ecleo.  Sure, it is still a very narrow field of choice, but it is a baby step forward, hehehehe.

    • doncleo

       Only God is the Divine Master and not Ruben Ecleo…These Ecleos are a bunch of criminals..I wonder why you dont see them as they are.. Matakot kayo sa ginagawa nyo..ang sumamba sa mga SIRA ULO.

      • NYPinoy

        I should have used quotes when I mentioned “Divine Master” Ruben Ecleo. I am not a member of the Ecleo cult. I am actually an ATHEIST. I hope this clarifies…

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/WYIHOMXIY3HHQPSTWAQTXHTFJE Juan Luna Ibarrizto

    After reading Jade’s statements I am impressed she would defy her mother politically. She is the younger and newer generation of idealistic Filipinos, but I fear for her safety. Good Bless you Jade and all the best. You go girl.

    • NYPinoy

       Safety?  I don’t think they would sacrifice Jade to their altar of crimes. 

      It is actually a smart political strategy to create an opposition within the clan. The Osmenas do it all the time, so do the Cojuangcos (Danding vs. Pepeng).  That way, the clan will continue to be in power even if a tsunami of dissatisfaction hit the ruling faction of the clan. In Dinagat, if the “sovereign” people suddenly wake up and throw their oppressors to the sea, voila, they end up with yet another member of the clan.  That is the ultimate monopoly, if even the opposition is part of your interest group.

  • hatecorrupt

    keep it up daughter….separate legal from illegal…fight for the right cause for the sake of your newly-born province…help the authority to find your fugitive bro…..more power to you.

  • Barak_O

    an ecleo that is sane

  • regd

    One brave lady. 
    I’m just curious as to how a man inside a prison cell can be living as a free man? Is that possible? It doesn’t compute.

    • enna_insider

      “But I’m being misunderstood here. I want him inside a prison cell so that he can be taken care of, so that he may have a chance to live again as a free man.”

      the key phrase there is “may have a chance”… gets mo?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GG4T5UNZ3P7SCHSRNJ7PF5JZMM Jimmy

    Why not put the province of Dinagat island under martial law so that the government can put everything in order there..!!! That is the best solution for the province and the people to start a new life without fanatical religious loyalties..! Crime and corruption were the hallmark of the Ecleos..!!! 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/MG423D3WENPFGTYMVIPIOMVFOQ Jawi

    good decision. fight for the dinagat island’s prosperity and not for the prosperity of the “Ecleo’s”

    been watching documentaries re dinagat island on qtv — naghihirap ang mga tao don, pero ang mga ecleo — sobrang yaman pa rin.

  • enna_insider

    would you believe their members would wait for ecleo jr. to finish his cigarette break so they could pick up the cigarette butts and put them into bottles of oil for its supposedly healing power? i heard that from someone who used to be a member… crazy stuff…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kilometro-Deciotsobientetres/100002671540908 Kilometro Deciotsobientetres

    gosh! drama in it’s sordid form! bot bot ni mga ecleo. wala mapili. puro idiot man gud ila constituents. posisyon ni daan para whoever wins, sila ra gihapon!

  • malek_abdul

    Hey Dinagat people wake up!!! Can’t you see? Maski sino manalo o matalo Ecleo pa rin?  Wala na bang ibang pwede mamuno sa inyo? Maski sino wag lang mga ecleo…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HUM77DUBLEOWKV73AYZBIJV3LQ Khaye

    Now I know that not all members of that family are greedy. I hope she wins.

  • etsubayno_64

    Now its happening about twenty years ago i heard one member of ecleo clan said.” one day ecleo members  will run against each other for political position”

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