CA affirms Ecleo’s conviction

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014


THE Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the trial court’s conviction of fugitive cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr. for parricide.

The CA’s 20th Division dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by Ecleo’s lawyers, who sought to declare as null the lower court’s order denying his bid to appeal his parricide conviction before the higher court.

“From the foregoing, it is clear that the RTC (Regional Trial Court) was correct when it denied due course to the notice of appeal filed by petitioner,” read CA’s 20th Division decision penned by Associate Justice Gabriel Ingles.

Last April 13, 2012, Peras found Ecleo guilty of parricide for the death of his wife Alona Bacolod-Ecleo inside their house in Banawa, Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City in 2002.

Ecleo was sentenced to reclusion perpetua, or 20 to 40 years in prison.

Peras, the Regional Trial Court Branch 10 presiding judge, also ordered Ecleo to pay his wife’s heirs P25 million in compensatory damages, P200,000 in moral damages, P200,000 in exemplary damages, P200,000 attorney’s fees and P50,000 in temperate damages.

Notice of appeal

Ecleo’s lawyers later filed a notice of appeal with their entry of appearance.

The court ruling on the parricide case of Ecleo “is contrary to the facts and the law and jurisprudence applicable,” the defense counsels argued.

But Peras denied the notice of appeal after the former Dinagat Island representative and leader of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association failed to appear when the court handed down its decision last April 13.

Ecleo failed to surrender on April 30, more than 15 days after the promulgation, or to justify his absence from the promulgation.

Motion denied

In June, 2013, Ecleo’s lawyers filed the petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus asking the CA to set aside the order of Peras, who denied his motion to transmit the case records to the CA and to voluntarily inhibit from the case for lack of merit.

Rights

The defense argued that Peras promulgated the case on April 13, 2012 allegedly without the notice required by the Rules of Court.

Peras allegedly stripped Ecleo of his rights and remedies pursuant to existing rules, the defense argued.

But the prosecution said Ecleo’s pleading is a mere “scrap of paper” since only one of his three lawyers complied with the mandatory continuing legal education required by the Supreme Court.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 02, 2014.

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