Sandiganbayan issues new arrest warrant vs EcleoBy Cynthia D. Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Sandiganbayan has issued new warrants of arrest for former Dinagat Island Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr. and two other local officials in connection with their graft convictions in 2006, after the first warrants were returned to the court unserved.
The new warrants, dated Feb. 7, were signed by Associate Justice Efren de la Cruz of the antigraft court’s First Division and were sent to the National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine National Police.
The Sandiganbayan found Ecleo, then mayor of San Jose, Dinagat Island, in Surigao del Norte, and supreme master of the Philippine Benevolent Missionary Association (PBMA), to have favored his two coaccused—former municipal planning and development coordinator Anadelia Navarra and private contractor Ricardo Santillano of PBMA Builders—when he disbursed P4 million as payment for the construction of a public market that remained unfinished. State auditors valued the finished portion of the market at only P3.56 million.
Prosecutors also questioned the payment of P3.85 million to PBMA Builders for the construction of a new municipal building, when the contract price was only for P3.68 million, and a mere 37.38 percent of the project, valued at only P1.44 million, was finished. Ecleo was also found to have released P300,000 for the repair of a building owned by the PBMA Women’s League, a private group.
Ecleo was found guilty on three counts of graft on Oct. 13, 2006, and was meted out an 18 to 31 and a half years’ prison term. Navarra and Santillano were each found guilty on two counts of graft and were meted out prison terms of 12 to 21 years each.