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Econg to elevate inhabitation decision to Supreme Court

First Posted 14:06:00 05/07/2008

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CEBU CITY, Philippines ? Judge Geraldine Faith Econg will bring to the Supreme Court the ruling of Executive Judge Fortunato de Gracia Jr., overturning her decision to inhibit from handling the parricide case against cult leader Ruben Ecleo Jr.

?I will seek clarification from the court whether (or not) I should follow the order of De Gracia,? said Econg, presiding judge of Regional Trial Court branch 9.

She said she would cite jurisprudence that an executive judge could not deny an inhibition because it is judicial in nature and not an administrative matter.

The prosecution panel also filed a motion for reconsideration, asking De Gracia to reconsider his decision to reverse the decision of Econg.

On April 21, Econg granted the motion for inhibition filed by the prosecutors.

While she granted the prosecution?s motion, she said it did not mean that she agreed with the prosecutors? allegations that she was biased or had failed to rule on the motion canceling Ecleo?s bail.

She said she maintained her impartiality throughout the trial.

But De Gracia overturned Econg?s decision as it would just further delay the resolution of the case which has already run for six years.

Instead, he ordered Econg to finish the case within 60 days.

Econg is the fifth judge to handle the high profile case against Ecleo, supreme master of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association who stands accused of killing his wife, Alona Bacolod, in January 2002.

On Tuesday, Econg met with the representatives of Ecleo and the Bacolod siblings to discuss the steps they would take after De Gracia stopped her from withdrawing from the case.

Both prosecution and defense agreed that the records of the parricide case would stay in RTC branch 9 pending clarification from the Supreme Court.

Econg said they also agreed to hold conferences if incidental cases will surface, instead of holding the usual court hearings.

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