Task Force Boniel terminated; search for Mayor Gisela ends

By: Nestle L. Semilla, Norman Mendoza July 15,2017 - 12:20 AM

Mikay Bendong, 45, sister of Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Boniel, joined the last dive of Task Force Boniel, which still turned out negative.

Task Force Boniel was formally terminated after the last search and retrieval operation for the body of Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Boniel yesterday still turned out negative.

“Siguro hanggang doon nalang yung retrieval operation. We cannot do this forever. Kasi mauubos din ang ating resources,” said Police Regional director Chief Supt. Noli Taliño.

(Maybe the retrieval operation should end now. We cannot do this forever because our resources will run out.)

“Dahil naikot na nila ang area na sinasabing doon tinapon ang katawan. Yung malalim na parte ng dagat di na ma-dive. Beyond human capabality na yun,” Taliño added.

(They already dived the whole area where the body of the mayor was reportedly dumped. Divers can no longer go down the deep part of the sea.)

The search and retrieval team supervised by Lapu-Lapu City Police director Senior Supt. Rommel Cabagnot conducted a total of 50 dives in 23 days starting on the evening of June 8.

The mayor’s sister Mikay Bendong joined the search and retrieval team at the Olango Channel yesterday.

She learned about the fate of her sister while she was in Dubai working and was able to come home only last Wednesday.

Although the search still turned out negative, Bendong personally thanked and hugged each diver including Cabagnot, Mabolo police Chief Jacinto Mandal and Chief Insp. Junnel Caadlawon for their selfless efforts.

“Among gihimo tanan namong makaya pero sorry kaayo sa pamilyang Bendong nga wala gyud namo siya makit-i,” said Cabagnot.

(We did our very best, but I apologize to the Bendong family for failing to find her.)

He, however, said the DNA match, the blanket and the testimonies of the witnesses can already build a strong case against the suspects.

Bendong said that although the body of her sister was not found, she still felt the search was successful because of the love and support of the people especially the search and retrieval team who volunteered their time and skills as divers despite the risks.

The team also measured the very deep portion of the search area identified by Riolito Boniel through lowering a banana trunk wrapped in a net and weighed down with around 30 kilos of stones tied using rolls of thick nylon rope.

After four minutes of releasing the nylon rope, the depth measured 1,148 feet, which, according to technical diver Mandal, could no longer be reached by divers or even detected by a sonar.

Bendong said the family is now doing the 40-day novena for the dead with their relatives in Iligan City.

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