PB Boniel pleads not guilty to kidnapping, illegal detention
Bohol Provincial Board Member Niño Rey Boniel walked into the courtroom in a prisoner’s yellow shirt, handcuffed with a tired look on his face.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges of serious illegal detention and kidnapping being heard at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 52 in Talibon town, Bohol.
Some relatives and constituents attended the arraignment on Thursday morning to show support to the beleaguered official who was also accused of killing his wife Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Boniel.
“I don’t believe it (the accusations against Niño),” said one of his constituents who identified himself as Alex.
“He was a good leader,” he added.
Niño arrived at the courtroom of Judge Marivic Trabajo-Daray at 8:50 a.m. from the Talibon District Jail where he was detained pending resolution of the charges.
He looked haggard while the charges against him were being read.
“Not guilty,” was his reply when asked by the court what plea he would enter to the charges.
Sources said Niño looked tired because he had not been sleeping well inside the cramped cell that he shared with 16 other inmates.
“But he’s not complaining,” said another source.
The court set the preliminary conference on July 19 where both the prosecution and the defense will line up their witnesses and mark their pieces of evidence.
The charges stemmed from the claim of Angela Leyson, best friend of Gisela, that Niño detained her and her son to prevent them from reporting to authorities when Niño forcibly took Gisela at a hotel room at Bien Unido Double Barrier Resort in Bien Unido town to kill her.
Leyson did not show up during the arraignment, but she was represented by her lawyer, Lane Pangilinan.
Pangilinan said her client was traumatized by what happened and had to undergo stress debriefing.
Niño faces a separate parricide complaint at the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s Office in Cebu for allegedly killing Gisela.
The police claimed that after taking Gisela from the hotel room, the board member allegedly killed his wife and threw her body into the sea between Cebu and Bohol.
Her body has yet to be found, but Niño claimed that his wife was alive and was in hiding because of huge outstanding debts.
Sources said that once the parricide case is elevated in court, Niño’s camp plans to ask that the cases be consolidated.
Pangilinan said the failure of the police to find the body of Gisela would not affect the cases against the board member.
“We still have a strong case against the accused,” she said.
At the lawyer’s request, Police Regional Office director Chief Supt. Noli Taliño ordered the resumption of the search and retrieval operation which was earlier scheduled to be terminated this week.
Pangilinan urged the authorities to never give up hopes of finding the mayor’s body.
She said that while finding the body would not be necessary to secure a conviction of the perpetrators, there is a need to retrieve Gisela’s body to put an end to all speculations and to give her a proper burial.
Taliño, however, said the search will be “limited.”
“The divers can only go down up to a depth of 200 feet. Beyond that, it is already difficult,” he told reporters yesterday.
The police official also called on fishermen to monitor the seas in between Cebu and Bohol in case some body parts would surface.
He instructed Senior Supt. Rommel Cabagnot, director of the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office, to schedule the resumption of the search and retrieval operations.
“We’re trying our luck to recover Mayor Boniel’s body,” Taliño said.
Last Tuesday, Cabagnot, ground commander of the search and retrieval operations, recommended to stop efforts to locate Gisela’s body.
Divers had been scouring the seas near Caubian Island where Gisela’s body was reportedly dumped, but their efforts proved futile.
“Anyway, we still have a few funds left for the retrieval operations,” Taliño said.
The donations, he said, came from the local governments of Bohol and Lapu-Lapu City.
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