The team of divers scouring waters off Lapu-Lapu City for the body of Mayor Gisela Boniel is still awaiting a formal directive from the Central Visayas police command (PRO 7) as to when the search operations will be terminated.
This was the statement of police Chief Insp. Jacinto Mandal who is leading the technical diving team after the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office (LCPO) recommended to end the search after their operations have failed to yield the mayor’s remains or traces of its presence in the area.
“There has been no written order yet na ipa-stop,” said Mandal on Monday in an interview with station dyRD.
So far, the search has been temporarily suspended since Saturday until today as divers were given time to rest after successive dives in the past two weeks.
Earlier, LCPO police chief Sr. Supt. Romel Cabagnot had bared that they have already recommended to conduct the final dive on Tuesday.
He said in a separate interview with dyRD on Friday that they have already scoured the surrounding waters in the area pinpointed by suspect Riolito Boniel as the drop site of the mayor’s body.
Riolito had claimed to be the boatman when Gisela was shot dead mid-sea then thrown into seas near Caubian and Olango Islands in Lapu-Lapu City.
“Wa man tay nakita gyud, walay indikasyon na tua didto ang patayng lawas ni mayora,” said Cabagnot. “Kaning gihatag sa atong witness na suspect, ato na gayod ni gi suyod.”
However, should the search operations be extended, Mandal pointed out the need for better equipment that would allow them to submerge into depths lower than 200 feet, the deepest so far reached by divers.
“Ma kaya pa nato unta mo agto og lawom, pero kuwang ta og gi-tawag nato na technical equipment,” Mandal said.
Meanwhile, the blanket found by the divers on Monday last week plays a crucial role in determining the chances of finding the mayor’s body, said Mandal.
The item which had what appeared to be a bullet hole was already submitted to a crime laboratory in Cebu City for examination.
It was believed to have been used to wrap Gisela’s body before she was shot dead and thrown into the seas, but Riolito had told authorities that it was not the same blanket.
The blanket was found 118 feet from the surface, about two kilometers from the site of where Gisela was allegedly dumped, authorities said. (A. Doydora)