Ecleo’s lawyers a no-show in court
THE legal eagles of convicted Dinagat Island Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr. were no-shows in yesterday’s hearing before Regional Trial Court Judge Soliver Peras of Branch 10.
No explanation was given for their absence. Prosecution lawyers pressed for the outright dismissal of three pleadings filed by Ecleo’s camp.
But Judge Peras gave the prosecution five days to comment on the appeal formally filed by Ecleo’s counsel.
The prosecution was also required to respond to lawyer Orlando Salatandre’s decision to withdraw as Ecleo’s counsel and his replacement by former justice secretary Silvestre Bello III.
Prosecution lawyer Kit Enriquez said the notice to appeal has Ecleo’s signature. He said it means that Bello and two other lawyers know the whereabouts of Ecleo, the divine master of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA).
Enriquez said Ecleo’s counsel can be charged with obstruction of justice if it’s proven that they encouraged the congressman to escape.
Congressman Ecleo Jr. of the lone district of Dinagat Island had until last Monday to surrender, the end of a period of appeal.
Prosecution lawyer Fritz Quiñanola said this makes s conviction for killing his wife in Cebu City a decade ago “final and executory.”
Although Ecleo’s lawyers filed a notice to appeal in court last Friday, Quinanola said the pleading was “improper.”
“The Supreme Court ruled that a Notice to Appeal a conviction that carries a penalty of reclusion perpetua must be filed before the Court of Appeals,” Quiñanola said.
He said they will oppose the notice to appeal filed by Ecleo’s counsel led by Bello. “As far as the prosecution is concerned, the decision is already final and executory,” he said.
Last April 13, Regional Trial Court Judge Soliver Peras of Barnch 10 found Ecleo guilty of parricide for killing his wife Alona on Jan. 5, 2002. Reporter Ador Vincent Mayol
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