Ecleo lawyer blasts Sandiganbayan

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 09 2011 07:09 PM | Updated as of Mar 10 2011 03:09 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The lawyer of Dinagat Islands Rep. Ruben Ecleo, Jr. criticized the Sandiganbayan First Division on Wednesday for denying a motion to lift an arrest warrant issued against the lawmaker.

Atty. Jose Ventura Aspiras said in a press statement that Ecleo’s conviction on three graft charges by the Sandiganbayan is not final as the lawmaker has a third petition pending before the Supreme Court.

“In fact, in our latest motion at the Sandiganbayan, we presented a certification from the clerk of court of the Supreme Court, Third Division, stating that Ecleo’s petition for review of the decision convicting him and his motion for reconsideration are pending consideration by the Court,” he said.

Elcleo, the “supreme master” of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), and 2 others were convicted 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.

“The Sandiganbayan would realize that the factual basis for its arrest order,” Aspiras said, citing his client’s motion for reconsideration.

“The Sandiganbayan’s refusal to lift the warrant for Ecleo’s arrest leaves us no choice but to seek succor from the Supreme Court. We believe that Congressman Ecleo should be accorded, like every other citizen, due process. Only when questions on the sufficiency of the evidence to convict him and whether or not evidence consistent with his innocence were appreciated at all, should a person be committed to prison to serve sentence,” he added.