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The brutal slaying of Atty. Arbet Yongco

Saturday, October 16, 2004
Arbet’s slay adds pressure on Ecleo case

THE death of private prosecutor Arbet Sta. Ana-Yongco is adding pressure to move the two-year-old parricide case against former town mayor Ruben Ecleo Jr.

Cebu City Councilor Edgardo Labella urged the City Prosecutor’s Office to lead the “vigorous and no-nonsense” prosecution of Ecleo, who is accused of killing his wife Alona in January 2002.

In his proposed resolution, Labella urged Acting City Prosecutor Cezar Tajanlangit, Prosecutors Nicolas Sellon and Rudolph Joseph Carillo and private lawyers who volunteered their services to lead the prosecution of the parricide case “in accordance with the imperatives of the speedy justice system of the country.”

He said the death of Yongco, the lead private prosecutor of the parricide case, seems to have become a hindrance in the speedy trial of Ecleo, which the Cebuano community has been closely watching the past two years.

The murder also provoked Judge Ireneo Lee Gako to inhibit himself from the case, which has been handled by five different judges.

Post your testimony to the Arbet Sta. Ana-Yongco Memorial. Click here.
2004-10-13 14:47:09
Edgardo Labella - Yongco’s death was not only a direct affront to the established duly constituted authorities but also to the legal profession – undermining the principle that ours is a government of law and not of men.
Read more testimonials

The PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation are looking into speculations that the man who killed Yongco is a member of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association, of which Ecleo is supreme master.

“Because of this apprehension, a number of private lawyers, through the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, have volunteered their legal services, seemingly giving the impression that the public prosecutors have not been efficiently and effectively doing their mandates, tasks and functions,” Labella said.

Labella also said the city prosecutor is responsible for ensuring the speedy and successful trial of the case, particularly since the remaining relatives of Alona are underprivileged.

Alona’s parents and two siblings were massacred in their house in Mandaue City last June 18, 2002, about six months after Alona’s body was found in Dalaguete, Cebu. LCR

source - SunStar Cebu


  • Bacolod | Baguio | Cagayan de Oro | Cebu | Davao | Dumaguete
    General Santos | Iloilo | Manila | Pampanga | Pangasinan | Zamboanga

    Sunday, October 17, 2004 (Philippines)
    Yongco memorial main page
    Prosecutor shot dead in her home

    THE private prosecutor handling the parricide case against former town mayor Ruben Ecleo Jr. was shot dead inside her office yesterday morning.

    Arbet Sta. Ana-Yongco, 37, was sitting on a sofa still in her housedress when a man with a long gray beard entered the office and pumped four bullets into her cheek and neck at 8:45 a.m.

    She was brought by her husband lawyer Filemon, brother PO2 Nathaniel Sta. Ana and Zapatera Barangay Captain Frank Benedicto to the Perpetual Succour Hospital but was declared dead at 9 a.m.

    A cartographic sketch drawn based on descriptions of witnesses show that the gunman was over 40 years old, 5'5" to 5'6" tall, had a bulging stomach, brown complexion, wavy hair, thick eyebrows, deep set eyes and long grayish beard.

    Yongco was alone in her office at the corner of Alcohol and Sikatuna Sts. while her husband and their helper were in the sari-sari store beside it when the gunman casually entered and fired away.


    He then ran to a waiting red motorcycle parked 10 meters away and then fled with the motorcycle driver towards T. Padilla St.

    When Filemon heard the gunshots, he thought someone lit firecrackers outside and asked their helper to check.

    The helper told reporters that when he went outside, he saw a man bringing a handgun get on the back of a motorcycle and then fled.

    The next thing he knew, Yongco was already on the floor with blood around her head.

    Filemon could not issue a statement to reporters because he was still in shock. "I cannot say anything yet. I hope you understand," he said.

    They will be designating a spokesperson to speak in behalf of the family in due time.

    Prior to the attack, Yongco was talking to Ni?o Bacolod, brother of the slain Alona Bacolod-Ecleo, with instructions to bring documents in relation to a motion for inhibition they were going to file against Judge Ireneo Lee Gako.

    Police are now studying the major cases Yongco was handling to see if these have any links to her death.

    Aside from the parricide case against Ecleo for the killing of Alona, Yongco was handling the murder case of businessman Calvin Manulat in Danao City and the ownership battle of a beach resort in Badian town.

    She recently won a ***** case against Reynaldo Andus, a father who was sentenced to die by lethal injection 26 times.

    Until they have sufficient evidence, police investigators refused to speculate on who could be behind Yongco's killing.

    First crack

    Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said the police in Cebu will get "first crack" in the investigation. But if the police fail, he will task the National Bureau Investigation (NBI) to handle the case.

    The Cebu City Homicide Section, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7 and the NBI 7 are working together to identify the gunman and establish the motive of the killing.

    Filemon told Homicide Section Chief Mario Monilar that his wife did not mention threats to her life.

    Yongco was an active crusader for women and children's rights and helped victims who ran to the Crusade Against Violence (CAV) for help.

    Benedicto's wife was first to inform the village chief after she heard the gunshots.


    Benedicto believes the crime was well-planned, saying the street was normally busy and the gunman took his time until no one was around.

    CIDG 7 Chief Salvador Manga Jr. said the gunman and his companion were seen hanging around the area before the attack. The gunman was also seen dialing his cellular phone.

    Manga told reporters that right after making the call, the gunman went straight to Yongco's office and then four gunshots were heard.

    Manga believes the attacker called Yongco's office to make sure the lawyer was inside.

    Monilar, though, has yet to ask Filemon if they heard the phone ring before the gunshots rang out.

    Two of the witnesses are now in the custody of the NBI 7.

    The NBI 7 was keeping a tight watch at the port area yesterday for the gunman, as he might take vessels bound for Cagayan de Oro, Butuan and Surigao.

    Yongco left behind three children-Arfil 10, David Christian, six and Pia, three.

    Her body now lies at the Cebu Rolling Hills Memorial Homes in Banilad, Mandaue City. With GC/GAN

    (October 12, 2004 issue)
  • Bacolod | Baguio | Cagayan de Oro | Cebu | Davao | Dumaguete
    General Santos | Iloilo | Manila | Pampanga | Pangasinan | Zamboanga

    Sunday, October 17, 2004 (Philippines)
    Yongco memorial main page
    Arbet was known for human rights advocacy

    To HER friends in the nongovernment sector, slain lawyer Arbet Sta. Ana-Yongco was known for her advocacy for human rights, particularly of women and children.

    Lawyer Joan Saniel, a close friend and former classmate, condemned the brutal killing of Yongco.

    "Di angayan gyud (She does not deserve to be killed)," Saniel, head counsel of Children's Legal Bureau (CLB), said in between sobs yesterday.

    USC grad

    Yongco finished her law degree at the University of San Carlos in 1995 and immediately began NGO work with CLB.

    Two years later, she joined the Legal Alternatives for Women (Law) Inc. and started her advocacy work on violence against women and children and on human trafficking while being a mother to two sons and a daughter.

    At the height of the Chiong case, she was part of the Women's Solidarity and from then on, handled cases mostly on ***** and gender-related violence.

    Yongco was one of the litigation lawyers of the Crusade Against Violence-Visayas, board director of the Federacion Internacionale de Abo-gadas-Cebu, member of the Cebu Women's Network, provincial coordinator of Abanse Pinay, project coordinator of the Central Visayas Forum on Trafficking in Persons and a Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas-accredited commentator.

    2 important cases

    Lolit Ali?o\, executive director of Law Center Inc., said the parricide case against former town mayor Ruben Ecleo Jr. and the ***** of twin girls, whose father was sentenced to death through lethal injection 26 times last month, were among the important cases Yongco had handled.

    "She was calm when the decision was handed down. She was very confident," Ali?o said of Yongco during the reading of RTC Judge Fortunato de Gracia Jr.'s decision on the case against Reynaldo Andus, the twin's father. She worked on the case for five years.

    As for the Ecleo case, Ali?o said Yongco, who sat as legal director of Law Center Inc., has always been praying for it.

    "She had said 'I'm leaving it up to God'," she quoted Yongco as saying.

    When she handled a case involving farmers and a landlord, Yongco did not only help her clients with their legal needs but reached out to them spiritually through bible studies.

    Yongco, Ali?o added, was guided with Christian principles, not only in her personal life but also in her legal work.

    In her weekly radio program, "Ang Ginoo, ang balaud ug ang tawo (God, law and man)," Yongco also included Jesus' teachings in explaining the law.

    Good singer

    Ali?o also said that since Yongco was an articulate speaker, she was always asked to host events and to conduct seminars.

    She was also a gifted singer and had even composed this year a song that aims to raise the consciousness of women on their rights.

    "I think it was through singing that she finished law school," Ali?o said.

    Yongco, also a certified public accountant, performed in music lounges to earn some money so she could pursue a law degree.

    She was not only a doting wife and mother but a creative homemaker as well.

    Last week, Yongco, who was born on Dec. 9, already bought tablecloths for Christmas.

    SunStar Cebu
  • I can't believe that Ecleo psycho has so much power.

    Who the hell are his backers anyway?
  • FendeR_21FendeR_21 PEx Rookie ⭐
    Ecleo is on a 1 million peso bail.... thanks to Sen. Robert BArbers "daw"... kc laking tulong ang balwarte ni Ecleo (Dinagat Is., Surigao) sa election campaign ni barbers

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