Ex-solon and cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr. now in police custody

Inquirer, Philippines/July 30, 2020

By Cathrine Gonzales

Manila, Philippines — Former Dinagat Islands Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr., the “supreme master” of cult group Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), is now in police custody after he was arrested by the police in Pampanga.

After years of hiding, Ecleo was arrested by operatives of the Regional Intelligence Division-Special Operations Group and the Regional Mobile Force Batallion of the National Capital Region Police Office in the City of San Fernando around 4:30 a.m. Thursday by virtue of a warrant of arrest for graft charges, according to information reaching the Philippine National Police headquarters.

At the time of his arrest, Ecleo was residing in Angeles City under an alias “Manuel Riberal,” according to NCRPO chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas.

Police also arrested Ecleo’s driver identified as Benjie Relacion Fernan for alleged obstruction in the arrest of the former lawmaker.

The two were brought to the NCRPO headquarters at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

Ecleo was presented to the media by Sinas in a press conference also on Thursday.

In 2006, Ecleo was ordered arrested after the Sandiganbayan found him guilty of graft and corruption over the anomalous construction of a public market and municipal building, and the repair and rehabilitation of a building owned by his family’s cult when he was mayor of San Jose in Dinagat Islands from 1991 to 1994.

He was then sentenced to 31 years in jail for the crimes.

Later in 2012, he was sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of parricide over the death of his wife Alona Bacolod-Ecleo.

Alona was strangled to death at their home in Cebu City in January 2002. Her body was later found inside a garbage bag dumped in a ravine in Dalaguete town.

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