CEBU

Bacolods: Justice at last

VICTIMS’ GRAVES. A guard of Cebu South Memorial Garden in Barangay Mohon, Talisay City and his friend clean the grave stones of Alona Bacolod-Ecleo, her parents and siblings on Friday, July 31, 2020. Alona’s husband, Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) supreme master Ruben Ecleo Jr., was convicted in 2012 for killing her in 2002. Alona’s parents and two siblings were also gunned down in their residence in Mandaue City by a PBMA member in 2002. / AMPER CAMPAÑA

“AFTER years of seeking justice for our family, finally, it has been served.”

This was the statement of Niño Bacolod, after the arrest of cult leader and former Dinagat Islands congressman Ruben Ecleo Jr., the husband and convicted murderer of his sister Alona Bacolod-Ecleo.

“Though the thought that they can no longer be with again hurts. At least, we were able to give them the justice they deserved,” said Bacolod, 42.

Five months after his sister’s remains were found in January 2002, his parents and two siblings were shot dead in Mandaue City. The crime was carried out by a member of the Philippine Benevolent

Missionaries Association, which Ecleo leads as its supreme master.

Ecleo, 65, was caught by the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) in Pampanga on Thursday dawn, July 30. He was arrested based on the warrant issued by the Sandiganbayan First Division for his conviction of graft-related charges.

In disbelief

Niño said he was on his way home from work when his friend told him about Ecleo’s arrest around 5:30 p.m. on July 30.

He said they were in disbelief that Ecleo was already arrested as Ecleo had been hiding in the past nine years.

Bacolod, who asked not to divulge his current address, recalled how they had suffered before the trial of the parricide case ended. The Bacolod family not only fought depression but also endured hardships under the police protection program, which they left in 2005. The judges who inhibited from the case contributed to the trial’s slow phase, he added.

“We were happy when he was convicted. But we are now much happier because of his arrest,” he said in Cebuano.

Ecleo was found guilty of killing his wife Alona in 2012. After he was freed on bail because of his medical condition in 2011, Ecleo went into hiding.

Bacolod thanked the police, the members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Cebu and the Crusade Against Violence for they were the instruments in helping them to not surrender the case against the “powerful” Ecleo.

Reward

Meanwhile, NCRPO Director Debold Sinas said a lone informant from Dinagat Islands will receive the P2-million reward for the arrest of Ecleo.

Four policemen will also receive promotions, said Philippine National Police Chief Archie Gamboa.

He said the NCRPO will make recommendations on the matter.

Gamboa said the PNP will refund NCRPO for the operational expenses incurred during the implementation of Oplan Almighty to capture Ecleo.

The informant had told the police that Ecleo left his home in Dinagat Islands six years ago for Davao, where he stayed for two years.

Ecleo moved to Luzon from Davao. He had been staying with his wife and daughter in Balibago in Angeles City for the past four years.

Ecleo was convicted of graft and corruption by the Sandiganbayan in 2006.


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