Court rules Ecleo graft conviction final

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 21 2011 03:35 PM | Updated as of Feb 22 2011 03:03 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - The Sandiganbayan has made final and executory the graft conviction of Dinagat Islands Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr., dismissing his motion to recall the anti-graft court resolution and a warrant for his arrest.

In its resolution, the court said Ecleo himself had noted that the Supreme Court had ruled on the different petitions he filed before the court. Hence, the decision is now final and executory.

The Sandiganbayan earlier affirmed 3 graft convictions against Ecleo in connection with his stint as mayor of Surigao del Norte between 1991-1994.

A separate parricide case remains pending against Ecleo in connection with the death of his wife, 4th year medical student Alona-Bacolod Ecleo, who died  on January 5, 2002.

Ecleo won as representative of the lone district of Dinagat Islands in the May 2010 elections.

Supreme Court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez, meanwhile, said there is nothing barring the execution of warrant of arrest against Ecleo because there is no Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the Sandiganbayan order.

The House of Representatives leadership had previously stated that once they have copies and a certification of finality, they will strike out Ecleo from their rolls.

'Warrant of arrest can't be served yet'

Meanwhile, Ecleo's lawyer said the congressman remains a free man until the Sandiganbayan rules otherwise.

In an interview with ANC, lawyer Jose Ventura Aspiras said “as far as the law goes, the warrant could not be served yet since the resolution denying our motion to recall warrant is not yet final.”

He said Ecleo “is just in town” and would be filing a motion for reconsideration on Tuesday. He said he would ask for a hearing on the matter on Thursday.

“The resolution does not discuss the main ground in our motion, that there is a petition in the Supreme Court questioning the validity of the conviction of Ecleo,” he added.

He said the Sandiganbayan should disclose the basis of its decision “especially that an individual’s liberty hangs in the balance.”