The search for the remains of Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Boniel was terminated after the two-week long operations failed to yield the local chief executive’s body and traces of its presence in waters off Lapu-Lapu City where the exploration was centered.
Lapu-Lapu City Police Office (LCPO) chief Sr. Supt. Romel Cabagnot told the Chronicle early Wednesday that yesterday’s search and retrieval operation was the final attempt to locate Boniel’s body after he recommended the suspension to police regional director Chief Supt. Noli Taliño.
“Last Friday, I recommended the termination and he [Taliño] said we give it one more try, and that was yesterday,” said Cabagnot in Cebuano.
The search and retrieval team led by Chief Insp. Jacinto Mandal has scoured waters near Caubian and Olango Islands in Lapu-Lapu City since June 7 but to no avail.
Technical divers have conducted 38 dives in 15 days in a vast operation area around the said seawaters based on a testimony by Riolito Boniel who claimed to be the boatman when Gisela was allegedly killed and dumped in the sea on June 7.
“We didn’t find anything. We have already scoured the area pointed out by the witness and suspect, that’s why we decided to really terminate it,” said Cabagnot.
However, the police official also noted that they are ready to be redeployed should new information regarding the mayor’s whereabouts surface.
In a previous interview, Mandal pointed out that should the search be extended they would be needing better equipment that would allow them to submerge into depths lower than 200 feet, the deepest so far reached by divers.
Some areas around the alleged site where Boniel’s body was dumped are deeper than 700 feet, Mandal said.
“Ma kaya pa nato unta mo agto og lawom, pero kuwang ta og gi-tawag nato na technical equipment,” he added.
Meanwhile, authorities are still awaiting results of an examination conducted on a blanket found near the purported drop site of the mayor’s body on Monday last week.
The item was found 38 meters underwater and is believed to have been used to wrap the mayor before she was shot and killed allegedly by her husband Rey Niño Boniel.
For his part, Taliño told Cebu media that even if police were unable to locate the mayor’s body, the burden is on Niño to prove that she is indeed alive as claimed by the Bohol legislator in his counter-affidavit for the parricide charge filed against him. (Rey Tutas)