Philippines' most wanted person arrested in Pampanga – PNP

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 30) — The country's most wanted person was arrested in Pampanga province on Thursday, the Philippine National Police said.

Ruben Ecleo Jr., who had been in hiding and was earlier convicted in the killing of his wife, was arrested in Angeles City. A PNP report said he has a standing arrest warrant for graft and corruption issued by the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.

The former House lawmaker from a powerful clan was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for killing his wife in Cebu, but authorities were unable to bring him in.

Often described as a cult leader, he headed the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association founded by his father.

Authorities said he had been using the alias Manuel Riberal while in hiding.

PNP Chief PGen Archie Gamboa presented Ecleo during a media briefing. He said "the long arm of the law eventually caught up with the elusive fugitive... after 14 years."

Gamboa said a ₱2-million reward for Ecleo's arrest would be given to an agent, whom he did not name.

In a separate interview on CNN Philippines Thursday, Gamboa said he credited to Metro Manila police chief PMGen Debold Sinas who began the investigation on Ecleo's whereabouts as Eastern Visayas regional director.

In the briefing, Sinas said they received confirmation two weeks ago that Ecleo was in Pampanga, but was not seen outside his house.

He said they tried to apply for a search warrant but changed their tactic as previous raids against Ecleo ended up violent.

"Bloody, kasi we believe na yung mga kapitbahay niya doon ay followers niya sa Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association. We were afraid na baka may taga-San Fernando or Angeles na kakilala at alam na alam namin," Sinas said.

[Translation: Bloody, because we believe his neighbors were also his followers in the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association. We were afraid that someone from San Fernando or Angeles would find out that we knew.]

Sinas added authorities were able to flag down a vehicle which carried Ecleo who has on his way to play golf only after they confirmed his identity. He said Ecleo surrendered "peacefully and without resistance."

Sinas said they coordinated with the judge in Cebu who convicted Ecleo in the parricide case as well as the Sandiganbayan.

Asked by the media about his involvement in his wife's death, Ecleo said in the vernacular, "Hindi ako gumawa, pero inakusahan ako... kaya aminin ko na."

[Translation: I did not do it, but I was accused... so I admitted to it.]

He denied any involvement in the deaths of his wife's family, however, and knowlege of who might be responsible.

Benjie Relacion Fernan, Ecleo's driver, was also arrested for allegedly obstructing the apprehension and prosecution of a criminal offender.

The PNP said Ecleo and Fernan were brought to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City for investigation.

This is a developing story.