Ecleo asks SC to stop arrest

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 11 2011 04:22 PM | Updated as of Feb 12 2011 03:16 AM

MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) - Dinagat Islands Representative and Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) "supreme master" Ruben Ecleo, Jr. is asking the Supreme Court (SC) to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the execution of a warrant for his arrest issued by the Sandiganbayan.

The Sandiganbayan issued the arrest warrant on January 28, 2011 following a high court ruling affirming with finality the conviction of Ecleo and 2 others in 3 graft cases in connection with fraudulent fund disbursements for construction projects in San Jose, Surigao del Norte between 1991 and 1994 during his stint as town mayor.

In a 7-page extremely urgent motion for issuance of TRO filed today, Ecleo said the January 28 resolution of the anti-graft court "is premised on the disposition of only two cases which have reached the Supreme Court assailing the conviction of petitioner and his co-accused in Sandiganbayan criminal cases nos. 24457 to 69... the said resolution of the Sandiganbayan failed to take into account the fact that a third petition is on file with this honorable court (SC) and has yet to be finally disposed...."

Ecleo is referring to a pending motion for reconsideration (MR) he filed to a minute resolution of the high court dated October 18, 2010 dismissing his petition in G.R. No. 192609-11 entitled Ruben Ecleo, Jr. vs People of the Philippines and Sandiganbayan which, he claims, has not been acted by the high court.

The case was dismissed by the high court on October 18, 2010 "for late filing as the petition was filed beyond the reglementary period of fifteen days" and because "the petition failed to sufficiently show any reversible error in the assailed judgment."

Ecleo is therefore questioning the Supreme Court's entry of judgment in above-stated case, insisting that the court has yet to rule on his pending mar.

"... there is no basis for considering as final and executory the dismissal of the petition in G.R. No. 192609-11... the motion for reconsideration was filed on August 27, 2010, and yet in spite of absence of any resolution denying it, an entry of judgment was made on November 23, 2010," Ecleo's urgent motion read.

An entry of judgment is a recording of the judgment or putting into the docket the statement of final judgment of a case.

"In view of the issuance by the Sandiganbayan of the warrant of arrest against petitioner and his co-accused (Anadelia) Navarra and (Ricardo) Santillano, and the fact that the resolution of the Sandiganbayan ordering the issuance of said warrant of arrest is based on entries of judgment issued by this honorable court (SC), petitioner has no plain, adequate or speedy remedy other than to pray of this honorable court that it now issue a temporary restraining order commanding the Sandiganbayan, and all agents and officers acting on its behest and authority, from implementing said warrant of arrest and causing the arrest of petitioner," Ecleo's motion read.

Ecleo maintained that if a TRO or status quo ante order is not issued by the high court, the Sandiganbayan resolution ordering for the issuance of a warrant for his arrest "will operate as a 'technicality' which will effectively preempt if not prevent the honorable court (SC) from discharging its duty to resolve the issues on the merits."

Ecleo said this would deprive him and his co-accused of liberty "in derogation of their constitutional right to due process...."

Ecleo's motion also pointed out that the Supreme Court has also yet to rule on his motion to re-raffle the pending case since the decision assailed was penned by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta when he was still a justice of the anti-graft court.