Prosecution wants body of Ecleo’s wife exhumed

To preclude all doubts on the identity of the remains of the woman found at a ravine in Dalaguete town in 2002, private prosecutors in the parricide case against cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr. asked the court last Tuesday to order the exhumation of the body believed to be that of Ecleo’s wife, Alona Bacolod.

But the panel clarified that the motion does not mean they have yet to identify the body, which was found in barangay Corro, Dalaguete, Cebu three days after Alona was killed.

The panel, mostly members of the local Integrated Bar of the Philippines, said the motion is meant to "preclude all doubts as to the identity of the remains of the late Alona Bacolod-Ecleo."

After the exhumation, the panel wants a DNA test with the samples to be compared with DNA of Alona’s brothers Ricky, Josebil and Angelito Bacolod.

The lawyers also want an examination of the teeth of the corpse which would be compared with Alona’s dental records.

The panel’s appeal was included in its omnibus motion filed with the sala of Cebu City Regional Trial Court Judge Geraldine Faith Econg, the sixth judge to handle the controversial case.

The court will take up the motion at next week’s hearing.

"In order to preclude all doubts as to the identity of the remains of the late Alona Bacolod-Ecleo, it is respectfully prayed of this honorable court to order the exhumation of her body," the motion stated.

"However, if the defense panel admits that the body identified by the prosecution witnesses as that of the late Alona is that of the deceased wife of accused Ecleo, then the prosecution would no longer insist on its request for exhumation, DNA testing and dental check," the motion also stated.

Defense lawyer Orlando Salatandre called the move of the prosecution a "delaying tactic".

Salatandre said the motion was tantamount to saying that the identity of the victim "is uncertain."

Ecleo had denied killing his wife, stuffing her body in a garbage bag and dumping it at a roadside in Dalaguete on Jan. 5, 2002. He had said that he loved his wife and could not have killed her.

It took several lives and more than 100 government troopers to force Ecleo to surrender on June 18 of the same year.

Some of Ecleo’s supporters in the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) engaged the arresting policemen in a shootout in San Jose, Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte.

A PBMA member was also accused of killing three members of the Bacolod family, including witness Ben Bacolod, in their residence in Mandaue City on the day Ecleo surrendered.