FUGITIVE Ruben Ecleo Jr. will give up but he has set conditions for his return to jail after eluding the law for six years.

Antonio Fabella, a retired police officer and member of Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association, the cult that Ecleo heads as supremo, relayed the message last week.

Ecleo was convicted of parricide on April 18, 2012 at the end of a 10-year trial that saw six RTC judges self-recused. He killed his wife Alona Bacolod-Ecleo on Jan. 5, 2002 in Banawa, Cebu City; three days later a black thrash bag containing Alona’s corpse was found dumped in Dalaguete, Cebu. After Ecleo missed three hearings in 2011, the judge cancelled bail (granted for “humanitarian reasons” because, his doctor said, Ecleo was a “ticking time bomb”) and ordered his arrest. He couldn’t be put behind bars since then.

Mocking the law

A convicted killer (though he insisted he was “judged wrongly”), Ecleo has scoffed at the law by fleeing. He can hardly be setting conditions on matters governed by procedure of courts he has shunned.

But then, maybe he could because the state has failed for so long to catch him. Ecleo must think that since the government can’t enforce the court order against him, he can ask for what he wants.

Another trial

Look at his conditions anyway:

[] About his two previous lawyers--Orlando Salatandre Jr. and Giovanni Mata--whom he wants disbarred, the IBP committee on bar discipline already dismissed two cases, leaving one pending. The lawyers can keep their “attorney” title unless they’re found guilty of negligence or incompetence in defending Ecleo.

[] On the matter of retrial, they can pursue it only if the high court says that the requirements are met and Ecleo deserves it even though he has been a fugitive for years. Courts would loathe to give him another chance of defending his innocence when to this day he has mocked the judicial process by not submitting to its authority. He was absent when the ruling convicting him was promulgated. Ecleo contends, through messenger Fabella, that the body was not Alona’s, proof of which the “amply paid” lawyers, Salatandre and Mata should’ve pushed that but did not.

Law’s not-so-long arm

Except a condition for his safety if he surrenders, Ecleo can’t ask for the lawyers’ ouster from the roll of attorneys or a retrial if the requirements of procedure are not met.

Obscured by the client’s complaint against the lawyers is the helplessness of the police and other law enforcers to catch Ecleo.

He is in the country, Fabella said, presumably hiding at the camp of PBMA and its supremo, in Dinagat Island where apparently the law’s long arm pathetically cannot reach.