Dinagat vice gov posts bail for direct assault raps

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/19 November) – Dinagat Vice Gov. Geraldine Ecleo posted bail Friday evening after a local court issued a warrant of arrest against her for direct assault against the provincial treasurer of Surigao del Norte.

Judge Cesar P. Bordalba of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 1 issued the warrant on Thursday, Nov. 14, for criminal case No. 12-17716 which carries a bail bond of P6,000.

On Friday, Nov. 15 at past 6 p.m., a visibly tired Ecleo arrived at the court amidst applause from supporters who massed at the city hall compound as early as 4:30 p.m. wearing the designated yellow color of the younger sibling of fugitive Dinagat Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr.

As she reached the 3rd floor of the building, the lights went off for the scheduled brownout in this part of the city, causing a howl from people already waiting at the sala of Bordalba.

Ecleo signed the bail bond and release order amid a dimly-lit sala that only used the camera of the television crew following her and another flashlight.

“I don’t regret. And I will keep on doing this. Sa susunod nga naay mangdaut, usbon ko sa mga taga Dinagat, magkuha kog martilyo akong ibton tanan mga ngipon,” (If someone maligns me in the future, I’ll say again to all people of Dinagat, I will take a hammer and pull out all the teeth) she said.

Ecleo was charged for allegedly slapping provincial budget officer Maria Gay Yuipco-Cotiangco during a budget meeting at the provincial Capitol on January 13, 2012. The vice governor denied the accusation.

The said meeting will decide on the budget for the three hospitals in Dinagat Island.

The Supreme Court has yet to decide on the constitutionality of the creation of the province.

Asked if an amicable settlement was still possible, Ecleo said it was already useless since the case has reached the court.

The vice governor said she will be hiring instead additional lawyers for her defense.

She added she was just surprised that the decision on this case was “fast” compared to “the other cases filed against me.”

“But then I will not stop especially if it means defending Dinagatnons,” she said.

The preliminary hearing will be held on December 14, but Ecleo said she will not be attending since she will accompany President Benigno Aquino III on a trip abroad.

Ecleo is running for governor of Dinagat in 2013, a move that has pitted her against her own mother, former congresswoman and incumbent Gov. Glenda Ecleo.

The vice governor, who is known to be the atypical Ecleo for her feisty and more ‘disassociated’ attitude towards the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association created by her father, earlier said the people of Dinagat should vote based on their conscience not on supposed allegiance to their family. (Vanessa Almeda/MindaNews)