Lawyer says Niño’s ‘confession’ can be used against police investigators
For talking to accused Bohol Provincial Board (PB) Member Niño Rey Boniel about the death of his wife without the presence of a counsel, police regional director Chief Supt. Noli Taliño may find himself in the thick of administrative and criminal complaints to be filed by Niño’s battery of lawyers.
According to Gerardo Carillo, one of the suspect’s six counsels, any confession made by Niño without a lawyer cannot be accepted as evidence in court against him.
But it could instead be used in filing complaints against the police officers who conducted the investigation on the board member even without his lawyer.
“That (confession) cannot be used against the accused in our courts of law,” said Carillo, a former Cebu City councilor.
Shortly after his arrest last June 8, Niño reportedly admitted to Taliño his involvement in the death of his wife, Mayor Gisela Boniel of Bien Unido town, Bohol.
Taliño told reporters that Niño first claimed that his wife accidentally slipped and had to be brought to a hospital in Cebu City.
However, he later changed his mind and confessed that his wife was actually killed, not by him but by his cousin Reolito Boniel, Taliño said.
Reolito, who was also arrested by the police, quickly denied the accusations and said he merely operated the pump boat used in transporting Gisela’s body, and it was Niño who shot the victim in the head before throwing her into the sea off Caubian Island in Lapu-Lapu City dawn of June 7.
Reolito’s statement was corroborated by Niño’s driver, Randel Lupas, who was allegedly requested by the board member to carry Gisela’s body from a resort in Bien Unido to the pump boat, and another driver Edgar Tapere, who claimed he was asked by Niño to fetch him in Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City, an hour after the victim was killed.
But Carillo said Republic Act 7438 — or the law defining the rights of persons arrested, detained or under custodial investigation — clearly states that suspects who get arrested have the right to remain silent until such time a lawyer of his own choice comes.
“If the police conducts an investigation without the presence of the suspect’s counsel, statements, questions and answers made by the person are devoid of merit,” he said.
Carillo said that while they have no immediate plans of going after Taliño or other policemen who investigated Niño, this may change if Niño’s alleged confession is submitted as evidence against the board member.
“But if they admit that (Niño’s confession) as evidence, then the policemen can be held liable,” he warned.
Carillo said the claim of Taliño that Niño admitted to him his participation in the crime could be used as evidence in court.
“The law states that any person held for custodial investigation shall be afforded with the right to remain silent until such time a lawyer of his own choice comes. If police conduct an investigation without the presence of a counsel, any statement, questions and answers are devoid of merit,” he said.
“They cannot be used against the accused in the courts of law, but they can be used for administrative and criminal purposes against the policemen who conducted the investigation without a counsel,” he added.
Not an investigation
Sought for comment, Taliño told Cebu Daily News that Niño’s admission was merely part of their informal conversation which was not used in filing the parricide case against the board member.
“The cases against Board Member Boniel were based on evidence and witnesses that directly implicate him as the principal suspect in the gruesome killing of his own wife,” said Taliño in a text message.
But if Carillo will file administrative and criminal cases against him and other police investigators, Taliño said that he is ready to face him head on.
“We will face any case they will file against us. We will not cower by any threat of investigation or counter charge or human rights investigation as the lawyer of Board Member Boniel has been saying in the media,” said the region’s top police official.
Last week, Carillo also threatened to file a complaint against the police before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for allegedly coercing their witnesses to testify against Niño. So far, the CHR has not received any complaint.
“We are open to any investigation. With due respect to the CHR, I am inviting their investigator to come to the office any time and conduct an investigation,” Taliño said.
For his part, Senior Supt. Jonathan Cabal, head of the Regional Intelligence Division, told CDN that what transpired was an “informal talk” between the board member and Taliño where Niño admitted his participation in the crime.
Cabal said the Philippine National Police has in its possession an audio recording of the conversation where Niño freely admitted his guilt before the regional PNP chief.
A parricide complaint was filed by the police against Niño at the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s Office.
Also charged were his eight alleged cohorts — his cousin Reolito Boniel, driver Randel Lupas, Wilfredo “Willy” Hoylar, Restituto Magoncia Jr., Lobo Boniel, Allan delos Reyes Jr., Wilson Hoylar and Brian Boniel Saycon.
Of the eight, four were arrested with Niño: Reolito, Lupas, Willy Hoylar and Magoncia.
Reolito and Lupas have been endorsed by the police as state witnesses after they pointed to Niño as the one who killed Gisela and threw her body into the water between Bien Unido in Bohol and Caubian Island in Lapu-Lapu City.
The three-man panel of prosecutors in Lapu-Lapu is expected to release its resolution within the week to determine whether or not to elevate the case to the court.
But even before the panel issued a ruling, Niño’s camp has already been preparing for a full-blown court trial.
“We will present everything during court trial. That is where the fireworks (will) happen,” said Carillo.
He said the prosecution must present Gisela’s body to prove that the latter is dead.
“They can actually continue (with the search and retrieval operation) if they want. But if the body is not there, they would just be wasting their time,” Carillo said.
Search and retrieval
Lawyer Lane Pangilinan, the counsel of Gisela’s best friend Angela Leyson, appealed to the police to keep looking for the “slain” local executive.
“We really want the body of Gisela retrieved. We keep our hopes alive. Let us not stop looking for her,” she told CDN yesterday.
Senior Supt. Rommel Cabagnot, head of the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office, earlier announced that they would end the search and retrieval operations today (Tuesday), June 27, but later decided to utilize their remaining resources until the end of the week.
With or without Gisela’s body, however, Pangilinan said they have sufficient evidence to prove the guilt of the mayor’s husband, Niño, who was pointed to by witnesses as the person who shot the victim before throwing the latter’s body to the sea near Caubian Island in Lapu-Lapu City last June 7.
“We have all pieces of evidence: documentary, testimonials and objects. They all point to the fact of the killing. We have circumstantial evidence that can sustain the conviction of Niño Rey,” she said.
Niño’s camp repeatedly claimed that Gisela is alive and may only be hiding herself to escape the “millions” of debts she allegedly incurred.
But Taliño said they have proof that Gisela was killed.
“In fact, Board Member Boniel, in an informal talk, admitted to me how Gisela was killed,” he told reporters yesterday.
“They (Niño’s camp) are just trying to condition the mind of the public by portraying that Mayor Boniel is alive. They knew that the public’s sympathy is with the victim. They cannot even present an evidence to prove that Mayor Boniel is alive,” Taliño added.
Aside from the parricide case in Lapu-Lapu City, Niño is also facing charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention before the Regional Trial Court Branch 52 in Talibon, Bohol.
The case stemmed from the complaint filed by Gisela’s best friend Leyson, who, along with her 17-year-old son, was held captive inside the Bien Unido Double Barrier Reef Dive Camp shortly before the mayor was reported killed.
Niño’s arraignment in the kidnapping and serious illegal detention case is set on Thursday, June 29.
Carillo said they will soon move for the consolidation of the cases in Bohol and Lapu-Lapu City.
“This is actually the best for everybody. We don’t have to go to Bohol, and then back to Cebu and then to Bohol again. Doing so is a security nightmare for our client. And for consistency in the decisions, it would be better that one judge will handle it. We want to defend our client in the most prudent and proper way,” Carillo said.
As to the admission of the three witnesses to the Department of Justice’s Witness Protection Program (WPP), Carillo said it will have to be approved by the court first.
“These witnesses must have the least participation in the crime, and that they were not coerced,” he said.
The Cebu-based WPP already agreed to take custody of Reolito, Lupas and Tapere.
Reolito said he was first requested by Niño to come over to the Bien Unido Double Barrier Reef Dive Camp to operate a pump boat which he thought would be used for sea patrolling.
But he was surprised when he saw Niño’s bodyguard carry the body of Gisela, and when they were on board the boat, the board member allegedly took out a gun and shot the mayor in the head.
Reolito said a rock weighing 30 kilos was tied around Gisela’s body before they threw her into the sea.
He said he did not dare to question Niño for fear that he too might be killed.
Lupas said he was asked by Niño to help carry the body of Gisela from the dive resort to the boat. The third witness, Tapere, said he fetched the board member in Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City, an hour after Gisela was killed.
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