ALMOST three months after he was found guilty of killing his wife, cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr. remains a fugitive.
His legal counsel yesterday appeared in court in Cebu City for a scheduled hearing on their motion to appeal.
Manila-based lawyer Jose Ventura Aspiras said Ecleo was saddened by the turn of events.
“He’s very sad. He thinks he has been judged on the basis of public perception,” Aspiras told reporters.
Aspiras said he communicates with his client by phone. He said that they are considered asking Ecleo to surrender.
Aspiras said Ecleo is still in the Philippines but he refused to elaborate.
“He thinks, like any other person, that he should be heard. There should be due process,” he said.
His other defense lawyers are former Justice Secretary Sylvestre Bello III and Lucas Carpio Jr.
They took over from lawyer Orlando Salatandre who withdrew as counsel after his conviction.
The Philippine National Police has increased the reward for Ecleo’s capture from P150,000 to P450,000.
Prosecution lawyer Fritz Quiñanola said they are optimistic Ecleo’s motion for reconsideration on the denial of the Notice to Appeal will be junked.
Ecleo, supreme master of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), was expelled from the House of Representatives. He was convicted by Regional Trial Court Judge Soliver Peras of Branch 10 last April 13.
He was meted a prison term of 20 to 40 years for killing his wife Alona on Jan. 5, 2002.
He was earlier convicted and meted 30 years imprisonment for a graft case by the Sandiganbayan.
This conviction which became final and executory was the reason for his expulsion in Congress where he represented the lone district of Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte.
The graft case stemmed from a case when he was still Dinagat mayor.
In his parricide conviction, he was also mandated to pay Alona’s heirs P26.3 million in damages. /Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter