Bacolod family still lives in fear

Cebu Daily News (Philippines), January 6, 2008

The Bacolod siblings are still living in fear six years after the murder of their sister Alona Bacolod-Ecleo.

As they marked yesterday the sixth death anniversary of Alona, the Bacolod siblings hope that the court would render its decision against her accused husband Ruben Ecleo, Jr., supreme master of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA).

"We are sad because the case is still pending in court," said Niño Bacolod.

The defense has yet to present five to six witnesses before Regional Trial Court branch 9 under Judge Geraldine Faith Econg.

During the pre-trial of the case, Orlando Salatandre, one of the lawyers of Ecleo, said they would present 10 witnesses to prove his client's innocence.

Niño, 30, and his siblings, Josebil, 27, and Clea, 16 yesterday offered flowers and candles on the tombs of Alona, their parents Rosalia and Elpedio, and their brother Ben and sister Evelyn Bacolod-Talacay at the Cebu South cemetery in Talisay City.

Fr. Ciano Ubod also said mass in the cemetery for the souls of the five members of the Bacolod family. Ubod reminded the Bacolod siblings that "to seek justice, you do not have to commit sin" even if what happened to their family was hard to accept.

The mass was also attended by members of the Crusade Against Violence headed by its president Thelma Chiong.

Rosalia, Elpedio, Ben and Evelyn were killed after their residence in Mandaue City was strafed on June 18, 2002. No case was filed against those responsible for the strafing as the suspect who was an alleged PBMA member was later killed in a shoot-out by police.

Niño said that since they could not obtain justice for the death of his parents and two siblings they hope to get justice for Alona who was allegedly killed by her husband Ruben in their home in barangay Guadalupe on Jan. 5, 2002.

Alona's body was recovered the following day in a ravine at barangay Corro, Dalaguete town, 85 km from Cebu City.

Niño, Joselbil, Clea and brother Ricky, 29, (who was not able to attend the mass) are under the witness protection program of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The Bacolod siblings were escorted by four-heavily armed men from the DOJ from their safe house to the cemetery.

Niño said "We are permanently in fear. We would not stay longer in a place where we go," he said.

He said Alona appeared in his dream two nights before to remind him of her death anniversary.

But his sister did not speak to him. He said that when he woke up, he immediately went to Carbon market to buy flowers for his sister and the other deceased family members.

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