Ecleo wants case tried in Manila

Due to what he perceives to be the hostility he has been experiencing in Cebu, cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr. has asked the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) of the Supreme Court to transfer the hearing of his parricide case to Manila.

The OCA received Ecleo’s letter-request for transfer of venue last Monday, just four days after Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Simeon Dumdum issued an order for the case to be re-raffled to another judge following the inhibition of Regional Trial Court Branch 5 Judge Ireneo Lee Gako Jr.

Dumdum has suspended the re-raffling of the case pending the OCA’s decision on the pleading of Ecleo, who is being prosecuted for the killing of his wife, Alona Bacolod.

"The extreme hostility of the community delivers (me) to death row at this very stage despite (my) constitutional presumption of innocence. (I) shudder at the thought of being convicted by the public prejudice at this early stage," Ecleo said in his letter.

"With the despotic actuation from the various groups, and irresponsible and unprofessional commentaries of some media and broadcast practitioners against (me), (I) now foresee more violent and vicious reactions should (I) be subsequently acquitted," he said.

Ecleo mentioned several incidents where he claimed the Cebuano community was hostile toward him, including the time when he was first brought to the Palace of Justice after his arrest in Surigao del Norte when the people "extremely ridiculed, condemned, despised, booed and shouted" at him.

He also cited the incident in June last year inside the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center where a fellow inmate attempted to kill him by attacking him with a pointed toothbrush.

Ecleo also mentioned the allegations that he had bribed jail personnel to allow him to bring musical instruments, money and a chainsaw reportedly used in making guitars, into his cell.

He also cited the controversial case involving Cedrick Devinadera whom suspended RTC Judge Ildefonso Suerte of Barili town convicted for having allegedly conspired with Bacolod’s brother in the killing.

Ecleo claimed that even before verifying the circumstances, city residents, particularly the media, were quick to conclude that the prosecutors and private lawyers were conspiring to exonerate him from the charges