Justify bail, CA orders Ecleo

The Court of Appeals on Sunday gave the cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr. of the Philippine Benevolent Missionary Association 10 days to explain why he should not be arrested and brought back to jail.

Associate Justice Arsenio Magpale wrote the one-page resolution.

Ecleo’s reply will be used as the basis for deciding whether or not the Cebu City Regional Trial Court erred in granting Ecleo bail.

The appellate court barred Ecleo from filing a motion to dismiss the parricide case against him. Such a move would be considered a “prohibited pleading,” the court said.

It also asked the complainants in the case, the family of Alona Bacolod Ecleo, Ecleo’s slain wife, to file their reply within five days.

The family had questioned before the appellate court the decision of Judge Generosa Labra of Cebu Regional Trial Court Branch 23 allowing Ecleo, who is charged with the murder of his wife, to post bail.

The family alleges that on January 5, 2002, Ecleo strangled his wife in their conjugal home in Cebu City.

The victim’s body was later found inside a black garbage bag in the town of Dalaguete, Cebu.

Police arrested Ecleo in his fortress-like home in Dinagat, Surigao, after a bloody battle where 17 people were killed.

The accused was detained in the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center in Cebu City without bail because he is facing a capital offense.

However, Ecleo filed a motion for bail before Labra’s court and the request was granted on March 1, 2004. Ecleo’s motion for bail said he needed to be released because he was suffering from a heart disease.

Labra justified her decision allowing Ecleo to post bail, saying his continued detention endangered the life of the accused.

Before Labra ruled on Ecleo’s petition for bail, the case was transferred to Judge Anacleto Caminade.

Caminade, however, recused himself from the case, saying he has already prejudged the case when he had issued statements that he would grant Ecleo’s motion to post bail.

The prosecution contested before the appellate court the decision to allow the accused to post bail, saying the lower court committed grave abuse of discretion. The prosecutors added that the records of case were full of evidence negating the claim that the accused was suffering from a serious illness.

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