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Police defy RTC order to release accused in Bohol mayor’s slay

Bohol Board Member Niño Rey Boniel with wife, Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Boniel (Contributed photo)

CEBU CITY — The Regional Trial Court (RTC) has ordered the release of Bohol Board Member Niño Rey Boniel, who is accused of killing his wife, Mayor Gisela Boniel of Bien Unido town, Bohol, and dumping her body in the sea.

But the police refused to let go of Niño and his driver, Randel Lupas who were detained at the police station in front of Camp Sergio Osmeña, headquarters of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) in Cebu City.

Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, PRO-7 director, was not deterred by the possibility of being cited in contempt for ignoring a court order.

“We will not release them,” he said in a phone interview.

He said the police would question the manner the court counted the number of hours. He stressed that the police had until Friday afternoon to file a complaint against the suspects and not until Friday morning as stated by the court.

In an order dated June 9, Judge Marivic Trabajo-Daray of RTC Branch 52 in Talibon town Bohol ordered the immediate release of Boniel and Lupas because the police failed to file the criminal complaints against the two suspects within the reglamentary period of 36 hours.

“Thus, for failure of the respondent (Senior Supt. Felipe Natividad, chief of the Bohol Provincial Police Office ), to show justifiable and legal grounds warranting the legality of the arrest of the petitioners, the court is therefore constrained to tilt the scales of justice and rule in favor of the petitioners and against the respondent,” Daray said.

The court warned that Natividad or those acting under his command would be cited in contempt if they would disobeye the order.

The decision stemmed from the petition of habeas corpus filed by Handel Lagunay, Boniel’s lawyer, against Natividad on Thursday, questioning the legality of the arrest.

On the same day, the judge granted the petition and ordered Natividad to present the board member and his driver to the court at 8:30 a.m. on Friday.

But police did not bring the two suspects to the court.

Instead, they brought the suspects to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor Tagbilaran City, the capital of Bohol, on Friday afternoon to file the complaint of illegal detention and kidnapping against them, along with Riolito Boniel, the board member’s cousin, and two others.

After the filing, the suspects were brought back to Cebu City police station where they were detained.

Natividad sent a written reply to the court, saying they could not present Niño and Lupas since the police were in a hurry to file the charges against the two suspects within 36 hours.

The complaint filed by the police stemmed from the claim of Gisela’s best friend, Angela Leyson, that she, her 17-year-old son, and the mayor were held against their will inside a resort in Bien Unido on Tuesday night.

Leyson claimed that she was handcuffed and tasered while Boniel punched his wife and took her away.

Riolito later told the police that Boniel killed Gisela, wrapped her body in a fishnet, and loaded it into a motorized banca.

He claimed that they tied her body with a rock that weighed about 30 kg before dumping it in the waters between Cebu and Bohol.

In her ruling, Daray said the reglamentary period of 36 hours had already lapsed when the complaint was filed.

According to the police, Boniel and Lupas were arrested at 10 p.m. on June 7.

Daray said the police should have filed the appropriate charges against the two suspects within 36 hours – in this case until 8 a.m. of Friday.

But the complaint was filed about 4 p.m. on Friday, the court said.

Daray said the court had ordered Natividad to submit documents to prove that an inquest proceeding had been conducted at the prosecutor’s office.

The judge gave the police until 5 p.m. on Friday to submit a proof that charges were indeed filed against Niño and Lupas.

But she added the police didn’t submit any documents in court.

Natividad instead filed a motion for reconsideration, saying the supposed inquest proceeding for the crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention was not held as scheduled on Friday morning because Niño and Lupas were brought to the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas located in Cebu City.

“The allegations advanced by the respondent (Natividad) in its reply and motion for reconsideration do not suffice to show to this court justifiable and valid cause why the petitioners are being detained,” Daray said. /atm

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