Scuba divers and the police are still scouring the waters between Bien Unido and shorelines of Mactan Island for the body of Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Zambrano Bendong-Boniel four days after she was allegedly shot to death by her husband, 2nd District Board Member (BM) Nino Rey Boniel on board a pump boat.
An 8 passenger capacity blood stained pump boat was found by the police in Malingin island, Bien Unido Friday afternoon – three days after she was shot, her body wrapped in a fishnet, weighed down with rocks weighing almost 30 kilos and thrown overboard in the seawaters between Bien Unido and Cebu.
Believed to be the pump boat used by BM Boniel, Riolito Boniel, cousin of the BM, Randel Lupas and a certain “Etad” tagged by the BM as the assailant is reportedly owned by Victorio Boniel.
WHEELS OF JUSTICE
As the high-profile prosecution of what many considers a “crime of passion” is now under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Prosecution Office-Bohol, BM Boniel is now facing complaints of kidnapping and serious illegal detention before Assistant Prosecutor Aida Digaum-Langcamon filed by the Bohol Police Provincial Office (BPPO) based mainly on affidavit of Angela Celeste Gamalinda Leyson who described herself as Mayor Boniel’s “childhood friend.”
However, a petition for a writ of habeas corpus was granted by Regional Trial Court Branch 52, Talibon Presiding Judge Marivic Trabajo-Daray for the immediate release of BM Boniel and LGU-Bien Unido regular driver Randel Lupas.
The writ was directed at Provincial Police Director Police Senior Superintendent Felipe Natividad and was received by Police Chief Inspector Fidel Tutor, Chief of the BPPO Provincial Legal Service.
But BM Boniel was whisked back to Cebu City by the police after a lengthy proceeding on Friday afternoon at the Provincial Prosecutors Office to face parricide charges set to be filed anytime next week.
According to Atty. Handel Lagunay who filed the petition in behalf of BM Boniel and Lupas, the order to release the petitioners could not be served since Police Chief Superintendent Noli Talino, Regional Police Director and Police Senior Superintendent Jonathan Cabal were out of their offices.
Lagunay told the Chronicle, who went to Cebu City yesterday afternoon to present the order for the release of BM Boniel left a copy of the order to Police Superintendent Jayson Villamater, Chief, Regional Drugs Unit who did not sign the receipt upon strict orders from Talino and Cabal not to acknowledge any document without their approval.
In a text message to the Chronicle, Lagunay said “Note that Randel Lupas is not charged before the provincial fiscal, nor did he sign any waiver under Art. 125 of the Revised Penal Code.”
A motion for reconsideration was filed by Tutor without any supporting documents to support their claim that the police will file the case for inquest proceedings against BM Boniel while admitting that Lupas is still under detention despite turning state witness.
But according to the Cebu Daily News (CDN), Talino said “We will not release them.”
Talino told CDN that they will contest the manner the hours are counted.
Boniel and Lupas were placed under police custody at 10:00 PM on June 7, 2017 at Camp Francisco Dagohoy, Tagbilaran City and is still under detention for 42 hours when the inquest proceeding was heard at the Prosecutors Office on Friday at 4:30, June 9, 2017 as reckoned by the prosecutor.
But according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) circular no. 050 issued on August 15, 2012 by then Justice Secretary Leila De Lima that the counting of the 36 hours from the arrest of the respondent, extraneous factors can be considered to avoid criminal liability of the arresting officers.
Talino also told CDN that Boniel was arrested under hot pursuit operations on Friday for killing his wife and was placed on custodial investigation.
Talino did not elaborate where Boniel was arrested. The board member was still in the Prosecutors Office around 7:00 PM and was slated to take the last fast craft trip back to Cebu at 6:30 PM.
A four-hour proceeding at the Provincial Prosecutors Office delayed the supposed inquest proceeding after Atty. Menedio Thadeus Bernido, counsel for BM Boniel for the inquest opted to waive the right of his client against illegal detention to avail to a regular preliminary investigation which must be completed within 15 days. The hearing is set on June 23, 2017.
A regular preliminary investigation would afford the respondent the opportunity to present counter-affidavits, affidavits of his witnesses and supporting evidence while in detention.
While in an inquest proceeding, if the inquest prosecutor is satisfied with the proofs of probable cause submitted by the complainant and arresting police officers, the appropriate information will be filed in court.
ONLY BOARD MEMBER BONIEL
Leyson broke the news of the death of Mayor Boniel to the media during a violent confrontation with the Board Member at the Philippine National Police-Regional Intelligence Division 7, Camp Sergio Osmena, Cebu City on June 8, 2017 at 11:00 AM.
However, Leyson spared the two bodyguards of BM Boniel – Wilfredo Hoylar and Restituto Magoncia, Jr. and Randel Lupas, regular driver of the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Bien Unido who brought her from Bien Unido to Tubigon since she sympathized with them as they were just following orders.
Lupas, Hoylar and Magoncia executed affidavits stating that they saw Leyson crouching with both her hands handcuffed and a duct tape over her mouth at around 2:30 AM on June 7, 2017 at the Double Barrier Reef dive camp
According to Leyson, she, her son Pete and Mayor Gisela arrived in Tagbilaran City from Cebu City on June 6, 2017 on board a Super Cat vessel at around 2:30 PM and proceeded to the Provincial Prosecutors Office for arraignment proceedings involving a libel case.
Before leaving for Bien Unido they had a late lunch at Golden Cowrie at V.P. Inting Avenue, went to the office of the Commision on Audit (COA) and arrived at the Bien Unido Double Reef Barrier Dive Camp at about 8:00 PM.
After a late dinner, Leyson and Mayor Boniel checked in their room with her son and Bryan Boniel Sayson in another room.
SAVED BY HER CHILDHOOD FRIEND
At around 2 AM on June 7, 2017, a group of persons with bonnets covering their faces forced open the doors of their room and started hitting her forehead, beating her with a handgun, handcuffed her, duct-taped her mouth and struck her neck with a stun gun, according to Leyson.
She recognized the voice of BM Boniel when Mayor Gisela begged to spare her life “Ayaw In (BM Boniel) kay naa iyang anak sa pikas kwarto, please In, please (Please don’t hurt her because her son is in the next room).”
BM Boniel vented his anger at Mayor Gisela cussing and beating her “Kaw yawa-a ka mao pa ni ang buhaton nimo nako pistiha ka (you pesky demon, this is what you are doing to me)” and dragged her out of the room while the mayor was begging for help.
After the incident, according to Leyson, she and her son were driven to Tubigon port for Cebu accompanied by Hoylar and Magoncia, alleged bodyguards of BM Boniel and Lupas.
She was told not to report what she witnessed to the police and made it appear that Mayor Gisela was with them as shown in the boat tickets that were purchased.
According to Leyson’s affidavit, she reported the incident to the Lapu-lapu Police Station with the assistance of friends at 9:00 AM and proceeded to the Police Regional Office.
Leyson confronted BM Boniel on June 8, 2017 at the Police Regional Office after the Boniel was brought to Cebu City by private plane escorted by no less than the Regional Intelligence Chief Cabal.
With the hearing set on June 23, 2017 for the kidnapping and serious illegal detention complaints against BM Boniel, the public which has been captivated by a drama that according to Talino stems from financial, family and marital problems will have a chance to hear the side of the respondent.
According to Talino, in an interview over DYRD “Action Line” with Fred Araneta, “Allegedly merong third party involved dito, kasi sabi ni BM Boniel nga itong si mayor ay may boyfriend,” said Taliño. “Kaya siguro lalong hindi sila nagka-intindihan at matagal na yung kanilang alitan at humantong dito na hindi na siguro nakayanan ni BM kaya nagawa niya ang krimen.”
The board member also reportedly narrated to Taliño that the mayor had not been active in her duties as local chief executive of Bien Unido.
“Base sa nanggaling na side ni BM Boniel nga itong si mayor palaging naka-leave at wala sa opisina at hindi na umuuwi sa kanila, at yun nga parang may problema sila sa pamilya, finances,” added Taliño.
The police official noted that reports indicating that Gisela was on the verge of filing a resignation as town mayor surfaced prior to her alleged killing.
“Balak ng mag-resign ni Mayor Boniel at magfa-file na ng annulment,” said Taliño.
However, Taliño clarified that they have not discounted other possible angles in the alleged murder particularly as seven suspects were reportedly involved in the crime.
Four men have already been placed under police custody including the board member, his driver, boat operator and John Doe for suspicion of involvement in Gisela’s murder. (Chito M. Visarra)