Bohol RTC orders Niño freed; police refuse
Bohol Provincial Board (PB) Member Niño Rey Boniel was all smiles inside his detention cell in a police station in Cebu City.
Judge Marivic Trabajo-Daray of the Regional Trial Court Branch 52 in Tubigon, Bohol has ordered the immediate release of Boniel and his driver Randel Lupas over the failure of the police to file the criminal complaints against the two suspects within the reglementary period of 36 hours for the killing of Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Boniel, the board member’s wife.
“Thus, for failure of the respondent (Bohol Provincial Police Office chief) Senior Supt. Felipe Natividad, 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,” said Daray in an order dated June 9, 2017.
“Senior Supt. Felipe Natividad or any other person acting under his command is hereby ordered to release the petitioners Niño Rey Boniel and Randel Lupas immediately upon receipt of this order otherwise he or any person acting for him may be cited in contempt of court for failure to obey this court’s lawful order,” the order added.
On Saturday evening, Boniel’s lawyers Handel Lagunay and Leilani Villarino presented a copy of the court order to the board member, who is detained at the Fuente Police Station in Cebu City.
They were hoping the police would release Niño and Lupas, but officers of the police station and the Regional Special Operations Group refused to let go of the two suspects while waiting for further orders from their higher officers.
“We left a copy of the court order at the police office, and I hope they would talk over it, at least to give honor to the court. There is no reason for the police to detain Board Member Boniel and Randel Lupas,” Lagunay told reporters in an interview.
Sought for comment last night, Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas, said there is no way they will release Niño and Lupas.
“We will not release them,” he told Cebu Daily News over the phone.
Taliño said their investigators should have until Friday afternoon to file the charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in the prosecutor’s office.
“We are contesting the manner the hours were counted,” he said.
And even if the time for them to file the kidnapping and illegal detention charges has expired, Taliño said they still could not release Niño because on Friday evening, the board member was formally arrested for killing his wife.
Parricide charges are set to be filed on Monday against Niño at the Lapu-Lapu Prosecutor’s Office, which has jurisdiction over the part of the sea where the victim’s body was thrown.
The arrest, Taliño explained, still falls under a hot pursuit operation. “He was arrested for parricide (on Friday evening) and is being held for custodial investigation,” he said.
On Thursday, Lagunay filed a petition of a writ of habeas corpus before Judge Daray, questioning the legality of the arrest of Niño and Lupas.
On the same day, the judge granted the petition and ordered Natividad to present the PB member and Lupas to the court at 8:30 a.m. on Friday.
The police, however, did not bring the two suspects to the court despite due notice of the court order.
Natividad instead sent a written reply to the court, saying they could not present Niño and Lupas yet since the police were in a hurry to file the appropriate charges against the two suspects within 36 hours.
The police also said that Lupas has turned into a state witness against Niño.
The court, however, noted that Natividad’s reply did not bear any attachment.
“The claims of the respondent (Natividad) could not be considered true to this court. Hence, the court ordered the respondent to submit documents before this court to prove that there is such an inquest proceeding that is being conducted before the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor,” Daray said.
The judge gave the police until 5 p.m. on Friday to submit a proof that charges were indeed filed against Niño and Lupas.
Still, the police did not submit any document to the 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.
Daray stressed that a case of kidnapping with serious illegal detention carries a penalty of reclusion perpetua, for which the police have 36 hours to file charges against the suspects.
According to the police, Niño and Lupas were formally 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 or, in this case, until 8 a.m. of Friday.
It was only on Friday afternoon, at around 4 p.m., that the police filed complaints of kidnapping, illegal detention and serious physical injuries against Niño, Lupas and three other suspects at the Tagbiliran City Prosecutor’s Office.
The parricide charges against Nino, on the other hand, is set to be filed at the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s Office next week.
“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.
“The respondent also failed to show to the court his authority to deprive the petitioners of their liberty,” she added.
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