The Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of Bohol was caught by surprise after seven police officers whom they earlier found liable for arbitrary detention moved to prevent the entire office to continue resolving their case involving the arrest and detention of suspects in the high-profile murder of Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Zambrano Bendong Boniel.
Police Senior Superintendent Jonathan Cabal, Regional Intelligence Division (RID7) chief of the Police Regional Office 7 (PRO-7) and six police officers of the Bien Unido Police Station filed a motion for inhibition on November 29, 2017, citing loss of faith in the impartiality of the prosecutors to resolve the complaint.
But instead of awaiting the resolution of their motion for reconsideration which they filed six days earlier, the police officers submitted a motion to stop the entire Prosecution Office from further resolving the complaint for arbitrary detention.
The police officers asked that the case be endorsed to the Regional State Prosecutor for assignment of special prosecutors.
NO WARRANT OF ARREST
Lobo Boniel, Wilson Hoylar and Brian Sayson filed an arbitrary detention complaint after they were arrested by the six Bien Unido police officers upon orders of Cabal on August 16, 2017, and “put behind bars for 20 hours.”
The other complainant, Wilson Hoylar hid after his lawyer advised him not to go with the police who allegedly barged into their house ignoring the pleas of his mother.
Under article 124 of the Revised Penal Code, any public officer or employee who detains a person without legal grounds is liable for prosecution for arbitrary detention.
The police officers were accused of arresting and detaining the complainants as suspects in the abduction and killing of Mayor Boniel, based on a warrant of arrest that did not bear their names issued by Regional Trial Court (RTC) 57, Cebu City Acting Presiding Judge Altone Miralles
The six other police officers named as respondents in the arbitrary detention complaint are Senior Police Officer 1 Alexander Garcia, Police Officers 3 Angelo Avenido, Virgilio Otara and Ally Bornillo and Police Officers 1 Frederick Enriquez and Emmanuel Pagalan.
In their motion to inhibit, the police officers cited that the arbitrary detention complaint and the on-going criminal case for Parricide/Murder against Board Member Nino Rey Boniel, husband, and principal suspect are “intimately related”.
The respondents claimed that Willy, father of Wilson Hoylar is a “long time employee” of the Boniel family and is also a co-accused in the Boniel murder case while Sayson together with Hoylar are currently employed with the Local Government Unit of Bien Unido.
The police officers argued that “we could not just close our eyes and cover our ears from the fact that the case (arbitrary detention) is closely connected and associated with Board Member Boniel” who “comes from a clan of prominent politicians that casts a prevalent and dominant influence in the province.”
That “intimate relationship”, the police officers believed will impede the objective, impartial and independent resolution of the case “given such circumstance.”
In their motion for reconsideration, the police slammed the resolution issued by Prosecutor Gamas for the “fact that the arguments we have interposed in our counter-affidavit were not even addressed and considered.”
The police officers maintained that the so-called “John Does” who are still at large and yet to be arrested could and should only pertain to the other four respondents in the assailed warrant of arrest (Lubo Boniel, Allan delos Reyes, Jr., Wilson Hoylar and Brian Boniel Sayson).
NO LEGAL BASIS
However, in a six-page joint resolution penned by Associate Provincial Prosecutor Godwin Gamas and approved by Provincial Prosecutor Macario Delusa on November 15, 2017, resolved to file an information for arbitrary detention before the courts against the police officers.
The ruling of Prosecutor Gamas did not sit well with the police officers even as they admitted that they arrested and detained the three suspects based on a warrant of arrest that did not bear their names.
Gamas pointed out that “it is clear as crystal that the said warrant did not command the respondents (police officers) to arrest the complainants (Boniel, Hoylar, Sayson)” while the “John Does mentioned by the respondents by the respondents did not appear in warrant except in the caption written in the document above the title.”
Gamas empathized with both police officers and complainant saying “it must be hard for the erring officials to face prosecution and the idea of being sent to jail must be unbearable, but it was never sweet also for the two detainees to be illegally deprived of their freedom and confined in prison for many hours. . “
“If respondents are zealous in keeping their own personal freedom, then they should have respected the victims’ very same legitimate desire”, Gamas added in his resolution.
Lobo Boniel, a distant relative and trusted aide of the BM was implicated in the murder case after he was tagged as the alleged owner of the pump boat where the killing took place and whose wife is the secretary to the mayor.
Sayson, reportedly a close aide of Mayor Gisela was with the mayor and Angela Celeste Gamalinda Leyson, the mayor’s childhood friend and her son when they arrived from Cebu City on June 6, 2017.
According to the affidavit of Leyson, Saycon accompanied them to the Bien Unido Double Barrier Reef Dive Camp and was with her son in another room when the fateful events leading to the killing of Mayor Gisela started to unfold on the early morning on June 7, 2017.
The body of Mayor Boniel is still missing and is believed by investigators dumped in the waters off Olango channel, Olango Island, Lapu-Lapu City.
Mayor Boniel was a commercial pilot of Philippine Air Asia with a rank of captain and won the May 2016 mayoral election by a wide margin over three other candidates.
Boniel gained national commendation for outstanding airmanship on February 28, 2016 after steering an Air Asia plane to safety at Mactan International Airport despite only one running engine.
Her husband, BM Boniel claims her wife faked her death and is in Dubai to evade creditors trying to collect on her huge debts.
Nino Rey is now detained at the Talibon District Jail awaiting trial for serious illegal detention and kidnapping filed by Mayor Gisela’s best friend Angela Leyson and a parricide case before a Lapu-Lapu City Regional Trial Court.
Nino Rey served as Bien Unido Mayor for nine years, married Gisela in 2015 and was elected 2nd District Board Member during the May 2016 elections.
Bien Unido is a 4th class municipality with a population of 27,115 and is 108 kilometers from Tagbilaran City. (Chito M. Visarra)