Authorities arrested Ruben Ecleo Jr, the Number 1 Top Most Wanted Person in the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s reward list in Pampanga, said a report on Dobol B sa News TV by Ariel Fernandez.
Ecleo, who was a former Congressman and a cult leader, was nabbed in San Fernando, Pampanga, at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday. He went into hiding and used the Manuel Liberal. The Sandiganbayan First Division issued an arrest warrant for graft against Ecleo.
Police also arrested Ecleo’s 35-year-old driver identified as Benjie Fernan Relacion, who was accused of violation of Presidential Decree 1829 or Penalizing Obstruction of Apprehension and Prosecution of Criminal Offenders.
The police report said that the two were brought to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City for “investigation and proper disposition.”
Ecleo was convicted in 2012 for killings his wife, Alona Bacolod-Ecleo, in January 2002. Her body was found decomposing in a ravine.
Alona’s parents and her two siblings were also massacred in their home in Mandaue City in June, also in 2002.
The former lawmaker received a life sentence or reclusion perpetua by a Cebu court and was ordered to pay P25 million in damages to the family of his wife.
Before he was convicted of murder in 2012, Sandiganbayan sentenced Ecleo to 31 and a half years in prison over corruption on construction deals he entered into while serving as mayor of San Jose town, Surigao del Norte from 1991 to 94.
The now 60-year-old most wanted criminal was the founder of cult Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), a group based in the Dinagat Islands.
Approximately 2,000 PBMA followers had surrounded Ecelo’s mansion and barred all access when police tried to arrest him in 2002.
A firefight with Ecleo’s elite team of bodyguards, known as the “White Eagles,” then erupted and lasted through the night. Ecleo finally surrendered to police the next morning at 9 am, leaving 23 dead, including one police SWAT officer, and 16 armed PBMA members.
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Police Major General Debold Sinas said they put Ruben Ecleo Jr under police surveillance for six months before he was arrested.
Sinas added police agents had to pose as workers and garbage collectors to reach Ecleo as his followers always surrounded the cult leader.