Police arrest ex-lawmaker, cult leader Ecleo in Pampanga
Authorities arrested former lawmaker and cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr. in San Fernando City, Pampanga on Thursday morning after eight years of hiding.
Ecleo is considered as the most wanted person on the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) list with a P2 million bounty.
An initial police report said Ecleo and his driver, were arrested by operatives from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) around 4:30 am as they served a warrant of arrest by the Sandiganbayan First Division against Ecleo for charges of graft and corruption.
Ecleo, the leader of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), was convicted of graft last 2006 and sentenced for 31 years for anomalous construction of the public market and town hall, and repairs of his cult's building in San Jose, Dinagat Island when he was mayor in the early '90s.
He was removed from the rolls of the House of Representatives in 2012 for his graft conviction.
Ecleo was also convicted for the January 2002 murder of his wife where he was sentenced to reclusion perpetua by a Cebu court last April 2012 and ordered to pay P25 million in damages to the family of his late wife.
In an interview with reporters, Ecleo said he is happy on being arrested as he is tired of hiding from the authorities.
“Yes… For me, I can see my family,” he said. “It’s hard (hiding) for almost seven, eight (years) and in the last two years, I’m just here in Pampanga,” he said.
He said he has no information on the status of the PBMA and when asked about the murder case he was convicted, Ecleo denied doing the crime.
“As far as I know, I didn't do it,” he said.
Ecleo said his driver knew that he was a wanted criminal.
Confiscated were his vehicle, cash amounting to P170,000, fake identification cards and jewelries.
In a briefing, NCRPO chief Police Major General Debold Sinas said they conducted a two-month surveillance against Ecleo.
Sinas said Ecleo promised to surrender to police firearms he left in Pampanga.
“During the course of interview with him, he said he will surrender the firearms he left in Angeles… He consented because we planned on applying for a search warrant… our operatives are already there and we will check if (firearms were) registered, if not we will check what additional cases will be filed against him,” Sinas said.
Sinas and his driver are detained at the NCRPO headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City for investigation and proper disposition. Ella Dionisio/DMS