Ecleo appeal dumped
The decade-old parricide case against Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr. is over.
Cebu City Regional Trial Court Judge Soliver Peras of Branch 10 deemed the fugitive lawmaker’s parricide conviction for killing his wife Alona Bacolod 10 years ago as “final and executory.”
Peras also issued last week an arrest warrant against Ecleo, the congressman of the lone district of Dinagat Island in Surigao del Norte.
In his order, Peras denied the notice of appeal filed by Ecleo’s camp, which would have been the first step in their quest for a reversal of the parricide conviction.
The judge said Ecleo’s failure to surrender within 15 days from the April 13 conviction has jeopardized his right to appeal.
“Up to now, the accused failed to surrender and therefore his standing in court has not been restored. The Notice of Appeal, for and in behalf of the accused has no legal significance and, therefore, can be considered as a mere scrap of paper,” Peras said.
Peras also denied the withdrawal of defense lawyer Orlando Salatandre as Ecleo’s counsel and the entry of three new lawyers led by former Justice secretary Sylvestre Bello III.
He said the Motion to Withdraw as Counsel filed by Salatandre is questionable as the signature of the accused may not be authentic.
Although the notice of appeal and the entry of appearance filed by the three lawyers bear Ecleo’s alleged signature, Peras doubts its authenticity.
“This court further observes that the signature of the accused found in the last page of the (two pleadings) is not similar to the signature of the accused in his bail bond and his certificate of candidacy when he ran for mayor of the municipality of San Jose, Surigao del Norte,” the judge said.
Lawyer Fritz Quiñanola, one of the prosecution lawyers, was elated with the recent development in the case.
“We are very happy. At least, our opposition was given due course by the court. We will wait for whatever step Ecleo’s counsel will undertake,” he said.
Quiñanola is contemplating filing forgery charges against those responsible for counterfeiting Ecleo’s signature in the pleadings.
Prosecution lawyers said have also questioned the Notice of Appeal filed by Ecleo’s lawyers as defective. They contend the Court of Appeals is the proper forum to file such motion.
They said a notice to appeal on cases punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment shall be filed before the Court Appeals.
Ecleo, the supreme master of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), was found guilty of parricide for killing his wife Alona on Jan. 5, 2002.
He was meted a prison term of reclusion perpetua or 20 to 40 years and ordered to pay fines and damages worth P26.3 million.
Quiñanola said they are waiting for the court to issue an Entry of Judgment and a writ of execution so Ecleo will pay the P26.3 million in damages to the five remaining siblings of the victim.
Peras ordered PNP Chief Nicanor Bartolome to order all police regional directors nationwide to go after Ecleo.
Aside from parricide, Ecleo was convicted of graft and corruption by the Sandiganbayan for misappropriating funds during his tenure as San Jose, Dinagat, mayor in 1991 to 1994.
He was meted 31 years in prison.
The Philippine National Police has placed a P150,000 bounty on Ecleo’s head. Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter
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