May 14, 2021

Cult leader and murder convict Ruben Ecleo Jr. dies

Cult leader and former lawmaker Ruben Ecleo Jr. was arrested in San Fernando, Pampanga in August 2020 for earlier convictions for graft and his wife's slay. ABS-CBN News/File
May 13 2021

MANILA (UPDATE) - Convicted murderer and cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr. died Thursday afternoon due to cardiopulmonary arrest, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) said. He was 61.

BuCor spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag said the former Dinagat Islands representative died at 12:20 p.m. at the New Bilibid Prison Hospital. He said the convict's relatives have been informed about his death.

Ecleo had just recovered from COVID-19 a week ago. He also had obstructive jaundice and kidney disease secondary to obstructive uropathy, according to the BuCor spokesperson.

“Last week ay confined siya sa Dr. Sabili General Hospital, Taguig City pero naka-recover siya at ibinalik sa Bilibid. This time ay na-cardiac arrest siya," he told ABS-CBN News in a text message.

(Last week he was confined at the Dr. Sabili General Hospital, Taguig City but he recovered and was returned to Bilibid. This time he had cardiac arrest.)

Considered as the country's most wanted man for years, Ecleo was arrested in late July last year and transferred to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City in August for earlier criminal convictions.

Ecleo was the former supreme leader of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), which was founded by his father in 1965.

He was convicted of graft in 2006 for the anomalous construction of a public market and town hall, and repairs of his cult's building in San Jose, Dinagat Islands when he was mayor there in the early '90s. He was sentenced to 31 years for this crime.

He was dropped from the rolls of the House of Representatives in 2012 for his 2006 graft conviction.

In the same year, Ecleo was sentenced to life imprisonment for the slay of his wife in Cebu City in 2002. He strangled his wife to death in their home and dumped her at a ravine in Dalaguete town south of the city. Her body was found three days later.

— report from Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

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