MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine police said Thursday they have captured the country’s most-wanted fugitive, a former lawmaker who was convicted years ago of corruption and murdering his wife.
Former Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr. was arrested with his driver while on his way to play golf in Pampanga province north of Manila where he had apparently hid for years under a false name, police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas said.
“This should be a warning to all. It’s good this one did not fight back despite his armaments, you saw he has high-powered firearms,” national police chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said at a news conference, where Ecleo was presented.
A special anti-graft court ordered Ecleo’s arrest in 2006 in connection with irregularities in the construction of a public market and a town hall and the repair of a building in a town on southern Dinagat island where he served as mayor in the early 1990s.
In 2012, a court found Ecleo guilty in the 2002 murder of his wife at their home in central Cebu city. Investigators at the time said Ecleo strangled his wife in an argument and her body was later found dumped in a ravine.
Sinas said police would try to determine if Ecleo played a role in other past killings in Cebu and if some officials helped him elude arrest.
Ecleo used to head a local religious group which was regarded by some as a cult and has wide following in the south.
In 2013, police and troops, backed by air force assault helicopters, tried to arrest Ecleo but clashed with hundreds of his followers in hours of violence in Dinagat that left several followers and a police officer dead.