Cebu City -- Saying that it has already presented enough witnesses to prove its case against parricide suspect and cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr., the newly constituted prosecution panel decided the other day to forgo the presentation of its last witness to the court.
"We are morally convinced that the pieces of evidence presented were sufficient to prove the guilt of the accused," said lead prosecutor Alfred Sipalay during the continuation of the hearing of the parricide case against Ecleo at the sala of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Geraldine Faith Econg.
The prosecution team was supposed to present another witness against Ecleo but it told the court that the testimony of the last witness would only be corroborative of what the prosecution had already established.
With this statement, the prosecution team, made up of members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and public prosecutors, after more than two years of trial, rested its case against Ecleo and asked for time to prepare its formal offer of exhibits.
The court then gave the prosecution 20 days to submit their formal offer, and told the defense lawyers that they have the same period to comment on the evidence offered so far.
Ecleo, leader of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) and former mayor of San Jose in Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte, is accused of killing his wife Alona in January 2002.
Lawyer Orlando Salatandre said the defense panel was still undecided on whether or not to file a demurrer to evidence that would ask the court to dismiss the case on the grounds that the prosecution's evidence is weak.
Meanwhile, Judge Econg, the sixth judge to handle the parricide case, denied a defense panel's motion to inhibit herself from hearing the case. The defense filed the motion following reports that two women, believed to be members of the PBMA, tried to bribe her.
Although they did not question Econg's integrity, lawyers Salatandre Jr. and Giovanni Mata said the judge might feel bad, especially toward the defense, after the bribe attempt.
Econg, in an order, said there is no basis for her to inhibit herself from the case.