Cops fail to find Ecleo at cult base | Inquirer News

Cops fail to find Ecleo at cult base

/ 08:33 PM April 16, 2012

Policemen going after Representative Ruben Ecleo Jr. following his conviction by a Cebu court for killing his wife a decade ago failed to arrest the fugitive in Dinagat Islands at his home province and stronghold of his religious cult on Sunday.

File photo of cult Master Ruben Ecleo jr. showing his name tag while being photographed inside the CIDG jail in Camp Crame, Quezon City after surrendering to police in Surigao del Norte on June 2002. INQUIRER

“Efforts to arrest Ecleo failed. We don’t know his exact location right now, but we are convinced he is only hiding in the Philippines. The long arm of the law would finally fall on him,” Chief Supt. Reynaldo Rafal, police chief for Caraga, told the Inquirer.

The Regional Trial Court in Cebu on Friday found Ecleo guilty of killing his wife Alona in 2002, and sentenced him to at least 30 years in prison. It also ordered him to pay the heirs of his wife P25 million in compensatory damages.


Rafal said a team of police enforcers were sent to arrest Ecleo in Dinagat, where the lawmaker has been reigning as spiritual leader of Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), but went home empty-handed.


The police official said there were several leads on the possible hideouts of Ecleo, but declined to elaborate further.

Rafal urged Ecleo to come out in the open in order to avoid a repeat of the 2002 violent confrontation between lawmen and PBMA followers, which left 16 cult members and a policeman dead.

“The peaceful way out of this is for Ecleo to peacefully surrender because we will hunt him down and we mean business,” Rafal said.

He acknowledged that police efforts to arrest Ecleo at his home base were risky, citing the presence of thousands of hard-line PBMA members in the area.

The PBMA was founded by Ecleo’s father, Ruben Sr., who was looked up to by members as the reincarnation of Jesus, Rafal said. The young Ecleo succeeded as the group’s “Supreme Master” when his father died in 1987.

In 2002, a bloody gun battle erupted between police enforcers serving an arrest warrant and Ecleo’s followers.


Rafal called on the powerful Ecleo political clan to intervene and help convince the lawmaker surrender peacefully.

For her part, Dinagat Vice Governor Jade Ecleo reiterated her plea for her older brother to surrender.

She feared that by hiding, authorities would be forced to put a bounty for his arrest “dead or alive” that might complicate the issue.

“I’m pleading to my kuya to surrender because the longer he hides, the worse the problem will become,” she said.

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By giving up, the vice governor said, he would also unburden and relieve his followers from a life of uncertainty and danger.


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