NOT GIVING UP
Police to continue search for slain Bohol mayor despite rising cost
The cost of the search for Bien Unido town Mayor Gisela Boniel is rising.
But police officials are not giving up hope of finding the mayor who was believed to have been thrown into the waters between Caubian Island in Lapu-Lapu City and Bien Unido town in Bohol after she was allegedly shot by her husband, Bohol Provincial Board Member Niño Rey Boniel.
Senior Supt. Rommel Cabagnot, director of the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office (LLCPO), said the local police and the Lapu-Lapu City government have squeezed their budget to locate and retrieve the mayor’s body.
“We’re hoping that the local government of Bien Unido or Bohol province can help us because we (Lapu-Lapu City police) have limited budget,” he said on Monday.
The local police had been asking the different resorts in Lapu-Lapu City to lend the police their boats to bring the divers to the site where Gisela’s body was believed to be dumped.
The Lapu-Lapu City government, on the other hand, is paying for the fuel used by the motor bancas, and the food of the divers.
Chief Insp. Junnel Caadlawon, deputy director for operations of the LLCPO, said they have spent at least P50,000 every day for the search that is entering its fifth day today.
Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, police director for Central Visayas, however, vowed to exhaust all means to recover Gisela’s body despite the rising costs.
“We are doing our best to locate the body,” he told Cebu Daily News over the phone.
Special diving equipment from the Philippine Navy and AirAsia are expected to arrive on Tuesday.
“We will use that (special diving equipment). But if it is really impossible to locate the body, then we have to stop (the search and retrieval operations),” he added.
The special equipment was needed since the water between Bohol and Cebu was at least 700 feet (213 meters) deep, which could not be reached by ordinary divers.
The search and retrieval operation was supervised by the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Navy.
AirAsia, where Gisela worked as its first female pilot, also vowed to help in the search and retrieval operations.
Taliño said Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto called him on Sunday and expressed willingness to help.
While finding the victim’s body was not a requirement in filing the charges against the suspects, he said it would help boost their case.
“Our case against the board member would be stronger if we find the body of Mayor Boniel. At least we have confirmed that she is really dead,” he added.
But Taliño said the police already had witnesses who could prove the guilt of Niño.
The police said financial problems and jealousy were among the motives behind the killing of Gisela, who had not been in good terms with Niño since December 2016.
Based on the investigation, Taliño said Niño and six others took part in killing Gisela.
Five of the suspects have been detained including Niño, his cousin Riolito Boniel and driver Randel Lupas, while two others remain at large.
The police had three eyewitnesses who had executed their sworn statements.
“The commission of the crime is the body of the crime itself. As long as we have the witnesses to prove the guilt of the accused, we can still secure a conviction. We have a strong case,” he said.
“Finding Mayor Gisela’s body is not necessary, but it would really be great if we recover it because it will further strengthen our case,” Taliño explained.
Both Riolito and Lupas would be endorsed as state witnesses after they pointed to the board member as having a hand in Gisela’s death.
Another witness is Gisela’s best friend, Angela Gamalinda-Leyson, who, along with her 17-year-old son, was with Gisela when they were held captive inside the Bien Unido Double Barrier Reef Dive Camp.
She said Niño punched and took Gisela while she was tasered until she lost consciousness. The board member later released her and her son after they were warned not to tell the police.
Two counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention had been filed by Leyson against Niño at the Bohol Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.
Parricide charges are set to be filed today against Niño and the other suspects at the Lapu-Lapu Prosecutor’s Office.
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