MANILA - Former lawmaker and cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr. was transferred to New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City Wednesday afternoon, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
The Philippines' most wanted criminal was turned over to the state penitentiary at 2 p.m. upon order by the Sandiganbayan, Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said.
Ecleo's transfer was not covered by a circular from the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) that first and second level courts should refrain from issuing commitment orders to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
He was admitted at the Bilibid Reception and Diagnostics Center (RDC) following strict health protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"He will be in an isolation area and will be observed by the RDC medical staff for a period of time following quarantine procedures," BuCor said in a statement.
Ecleo fell into police hands in San Fernando, Pampanga on July 30 after 14 years of evading prison time.
Ecleo was convicted of graft in 2006 for the anomalous construction of the 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.
The court also ordered Ecleo to pay P25 million in compensatory damages to his wife's family. He was at large at his sentencing.
Ecleo is considered the "supreme master" of the cult Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association. - With a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News