ANGELES CITY — Most Wanted – in the Department of Interior and Local Government’s Reward List – fugitive cult leader and former congressman Ruben Ecleo Jr. was arrested around 4:30 a.m. July 30 in this city.
Police said Ecleo, aka Manuel Riberal, 60, was arrested at his residence on Lot 6, Block 8 Orosa St., Diamond Subd. in Barangay Balibago. Also nabbed by police is his driver identified as Benjie Relacion Fernan, aka Smile, 35, a native of San Jose, Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte.
Joint elements of the RID-RSOG and RMFB of NCRPO served the alias warrant of arrest to Ecleo for violations of Sec 3 (e) of RA 3019 “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act” with Criminal Case No. 24467 to 24469 issued by Efren N. Dela Cruz, chairperson of 1st Division Sandiganbayan, Quezon City; and his driver for violation of Sec 1 (c) of PD 1829 “Penalizing Obstruction of Apprehension and Prosecution of Criminal Offenders.”
Both suspects were apprised of their constitutional rights and right to medico legal examination and were brought to NCRPO, Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City, Metro Manila for investigation and proper disposition.
Ecleo is the supreme leader of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association, a religious cult based in Dinagat Islands. He won the lone district seat of Dinagat in 2010 and was dropped from the House rolls in 2012 owing to his conviction.
In April 2012, the former congressman was convicted of the 2002 murder of his wife Alona Bacolod-Ecleo whose body was found decomposing in a ravine.
Ecleo was meted a life sentence or reclusion perpetua by a Cebu court and ordered to pay P25-million in damages to the family of his late wife.
Before his murder conviction, the Sandiganbayan in October 2006 sentenced Ecleo to 31 and a half years in prison over anomalous construction deals he entered into when he was town mayor of San Jose, Surigao del Norte between 1991-94.
Prior to Ecleo’s arrest, the government had offered a P2-million reward for his capture.