Accused killer Ecleo Jr. now sits in Congress

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 08 2010 09:08 PM | Updated as of Jul 11 2010 01:39 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Ruben Ecleo, Jr. a leader of the Dinagat Island-based Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) religious group, is now a member of the 15th Congress.

Ecleo was listed in the master list of district congressmen of the lower House, representing his native Dinagat Island.

Ecleo Jr. takes over the seat of his mother, Glenda Ecleo.

Ecleo's family controls the province, populated mainly by members of their group, which others have described as a cult.

Ecleo Jr. was accused and remains on trial for parricide over the gruesome death of his wife, Alona, in 2002.

The case has been pending in the Cebu Regional Trial Court since 2002.

Arresting him was controversial since 23 people died in a night of violence as police went to serve the warrant for his arrest.

Ecleo Jr., 47, finally surrendered after a night of bloody fighting between law enforcers and armed PBMA followers on the island of Dinagat, CARAGA police director Chief Superintendent Alberto Olario said.

The shootout erupted as a joint team of Philippine National Police (PNP) and soldiers of the Army's 20th Infantry Battalion - with air support from two MG-520 helicopters - tried to serve Ecleo a warrant of arrest in connection with the murder of his wife, fourth-year medical student Alona Bacolod Ecleo, in Cebu City.

Congressmen cannot be detained while Congress is in session.

The secretariat of the House of Representatives confirmed that Ecleo Jr. attended the orientation seminar Thursday morning of new congressmen.