Sandiganbayan orders Rep. Ecleo's arrest

By Sheryll Mundo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 10 2011 03:58 PM | Updated as of Feb 11 2011 04:28 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - The Sandiganbayan has ordered the arrest of alleged cult leader, Dinagat Rep. Ruben Ecleo, Jr.

The Sandiganbayan issued the arrest warrant after the Supreme Court ruled with finality on the graft cases against Ecleo.  

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

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

He is out on a P1-million bail.

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

Majority of the voters are said to belong to the Philippine Benevolent Missionary Association (PBMA), an alleged cult where Ecleo is the Supreme Master.

A bloody shoot-out between law enforcers and PBMA members erupted in June 2002 as authorities tried to serve Ecleo a warrant of arrest.

A 2006 resolution in connection with this case explicitly says the penalty is perpetual disqualification from office.

This means Ecleo will automatically be dropped from the rolls of Congress. The House Ethics committee does not even need to investigate this nor vote on the issue.

This also means he loses immunity from arrest while Congress is in session. -- with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News