After 2 years, kin of Bohol mayor still await justice
CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — Justice remains elusive to the family of Mayor Gisela Bendong Boniel of Bien Unido town in Bohol province, who was believed to have been killed by her husband.
“The family of Gisela Boniel is restless because two years have already passed and Niño Boniel and the other accused have yet to be put to justice,” said the family’s lawyer, Amando Virgil Ligutan, in a statement sent to the Inquirer.
He said the prosecution had presented several witnesses to hasten the hearings while the defense was “doing everything it can to delay the proceedings.”
“Any day of delay is a delay in the collective search for justice for the death of Gisela,” Ligutan added.
Former Board Member Niño Boniel is charged with parricide over the disappearance of his wife on June 7, 2017. Also charged with murder were Niño’s cousin Riolito Boniel, driver Randel Lupas and Wilfredo Hoylar, Restituto Magoncia Jr., Allan delos Reyes Jr. and Lobo Boniel.
Lupas and Riolito were made state witnesses.
Riolito, a casual employee of Bien Unido, claimed to have witnessed the murder.
In his sworn statement, Riolito said Niño shot his wife Gisela in the head. The mayor’s body was then wrapped in a fishing net, which was weighed down by rocks, before this was dumped in the waters between the islands of Olango and Caubian in Lapu-Lapu City at dawn on June 7, 2017.
For three weeks, divers scoured the seas near Caubian Island in Lapu-Lapu City but they failed to find Gisela’s body.
The parricide case is handled by Judge Christine Muga-Abad of the Lapu-Lapu City Regional Trial Court (RTC), Ligutan said. A separate case for kidnapping and serious illegal detention is pending before the sala of Judge Jose Andal of the Cebu City RTC.
In his counteraffidavit, Niño claimed that his wife was still alive and was in hiding to escape “millions [of pesos in] debts.”
But the panel of prosecutors did not give much weight to his defense.
On June 7 last year, Niño tendered his irrevocable resignation as board member of Bohol’s second district, barely a year after being detained at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center for allegedly masterminding the murder of his wife.
His elder sister, Vierna Mae Boniel-Maglasang, took over his seat on March 22 although Malacañang released her appointment paper only on April 29.
Maglasang ran and won as board member during the May 13 elections. —With a report from Leo Udtohan
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