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Ex-congressman and cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr. nabbed in Pampanga

Authorities have arrested former lawmaker and cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr. in Pampanga, according to a report on Dobol B sa News TV by Ariel Fernandez.

A police spot report said Ecleo, who has been using the name Manuel Liberal, was arrested in San Fernando, Pampanga at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday. He was the subject of an arrest warrant for graft issued by the Sandiganbayan First Division.

Arrested with Ecleo was his 35-year-old driver identified as Benjie Fernan Relacion. He was accused of violation of Presidential Decree 1829 or Penalizing Obstruction of Apprehension and Prosecution of Criminal Offenders.

The two were brought to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City for "investigation and proper disposition," the police report said.

In April 2012, Ecleo was convicted for the January 2002 murder of his wife, Alona Bacolod-Ecleo, whose body was found decomposing in a ravine.

The former lawmaker, now 60 years old, was meted a life sentence or reclusion perpetua by a Cebu court and ordered to pay P25 million in damages to the family of his late wife.

Before his murder conviction, the Sandiganbayan in October 2006 sentenced Ecleo to 31 and a half years in prison over anomalous construction deals he entered into when he was town mayor of San Jose, Surigao del Norte between 1991-94.

Ecleo is the leader of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association, a group based in Dinagat Islands.

The radio report, citing National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Police Major General Debold Sinas, said Ecleo has been under police surveillance for six months before he was nabbed.

Sinas was quoted as saying that police operatives had to pose as workers and garbage collectors to get near Ecleo as the former lawmaker was always surrounded by his followers.

Prior to Ecleo's arrest, the government had offered a P2-million reward for his capture. He was the Number 1 Top Most Wanted Person in the Department of the Interior and Local Government's reward list. —KBK, GMA News