Ecleo's wife was killed by her brother - witness

Region 7 CIDG chief Diocos airs caution on testimony

Manila Bulletin/December 18, 2003
By Mars W. Mosqueda Jr.

Cebu City -- In what was considered a twist of event, a 32-year-old man claimed it was not cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr. who killed and dumped his own wife, Alona Bacolod, but Alona's own brother who did it.

After nearly two years of keeping "the secret" to himself, Cedric Divinadira, 32, said he had surrendered to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in General Santos City and told the police that it was Alona's older brother, Ben "Boboy" Bacolod who killed her and later dumped the body in Dalaguete, Cebu.

"I couldn't bear the guilty feeling anymore," said Divinadira who also told the police that he and Ben placed the body of Alona inside a black plastic bag and dumped it near a beach in barangay Corro, Dalaguete.

However, in Cebu City, some prosecution lawyers aired speculations that Divinadira had been paid by the camp of Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) supreme master Ecleo, who is accused of the killing of his wife.

But defense lawyer Orlando Salatandre denied having a hand at the surprise appearance of Divinadira and asked the authorites to take a closer look into the testimony of the man.

Divinadira, who denied being a member of the PBMA, told Cebu reporters over the radio that Ben allegedly mauled and strangled Alona to death after she failed to give the exact amount of money her brother had demanded.

Ben, 36 years old, and three other members of the Bacolod family were killed when a lone gunman attacked them outside their home in Mandaue City in June 2002, the night before the arrest of Ecleo.

Divinadira, a resident of Labangon, Cebu City, said he has been on the run since the day after Alona's death on Jan. 5, 2002, but was bothered by his conscience.

He said he knew Ben after the latter approached him in a billiard hall in Cebu City and offered him a job. Divinadira said he acted as Ben's "runner," bringing certain bags to different places in Cebu City. He said, however, that he didn't know what was inside those bags he delivered.

Region 7 CIDG Chief Edwin Diocos said he has yet to study Divinadira's statement, but cautioned that "volunteer witnesses" must be dealt with carefully.

The Ecleos "will do everything because they have the money," Diocos said during a radio interview Wednesday night.

But Divinadira said he doesn't personally know Ecleo and denied allegations he had been paid to surface and reveal the information.

"I came here on my own. If i'll be sentenced to die because of my participation in the crime, so be it. I just couldn't stand being bothered by my conscience," Divinadira said in Cebuano.

Ecleo is now detained at the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center in connection with the parricide case filed against him for the death of Alona.

Ecleo, who is the former mayor of San Jose, Dinagat Island in Surigao del Norte has denied involvement in the death of his wife.

He left for Surigao after the incident and never returned to Cebu. Ecleo and Alona were temporarily residing in Banawa, Cebu City at that time while she pursued her studies at the Southwestern University.

Ecleo was later arrested by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group at his family's mansion on Dinagat Island and was brought back to Cebu for detention. More than 10 PBMA members and a policemen died in the gunbattle.

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