Boniel resigns from PB, reiterates innocence
After spending a year in jail, Bohol Provincial Board Member Niño Rey Boniel has decided to give up his elective position.
The lawmaker has tendered his irrevocable resignation at the Bohol Provincial Board which accepted the request on Thursday.
“This is to formally inform you that the undersigned after thorough consultation with family and supporters, is officially and irrevocably resigning from his elective position effective immediately,” said Niño in a one-page letter addressed to Bohol Vice Gov. Dionisio Balite.
Director Rene Burdeos of the Department of Interior and Local Government in Central Visayas (DILG-7), in a phone interview, said the chairman of the Nacionalista Party where Niño belonged can nominate the latter’s replacement.
Burdeos said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea shall subsequently appoint the new board member who will replace Niño.
Shortly before he made the announcement, Boniel and two other suspects refused to enter a plea on the charge involving the alleged killing of his wife, Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Bendong-Boniel, during the arraignment before Judge Ferdinand Collantes of the Regional Trial Court Branch 65 in Lapu-Lapu City.
As part of the procedure, the trial court put in a “not guilty” plea for him and co-accused Wilfredo Hoylar and Restituto Magoncia.
Niño’s lawyer Gerardo Carillo said they wanted the court to enter a plea for the accused since they continue to question the validity of the arrest made on his client.
Carillo remained optimistic that the court will eventually clear Niño of the accusations.
“The paraffin test results showed that he didn’t fire a gun. No gun was ever recovered, and more importantly, the body of the victim was not found. What are we talking about? Who knows his wife is still alive,” he said.
Two other accused who were earlier endorsed as state witnesses by the police — Riolito Boniel and Randel Lupas — surprised the parties when they entered a not guilty plea during the proceedings.
Riolito and Lupas, who were represented by a lawyer from the Public Attorney’s Office, begged off from issuing any statement to the media.
Carillo said Riolito and Lupas must now be transferred from the custody of the Department of Justice’s Witness Protection Program to the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) in Cebu City following their denial.
The Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s Office earlier indicted Niño of parricide over the disappearance and presumed death of his wife.
The four other arrested accused, on the other hand, were charged with murder.
In his counter-affidavit, Niño claimed that his wife Gisela is still alive and is in hiding to escape “millions of debts.”
But the panel of prosecutors did not give much weight to his defense and instead let the court conduct a full-blown trial.
Interviewed by reporters at the courtroom, Niño maintained that he did not kill his wife.
“No matter how you trample me, you cannot put a good man down. I am innocent,” said the primary accused who was holding a prayer booklet throughout the proceedings.
His wife Gisela was reportedly dumped off in between the islands of Olango and Caubian in Lapu-Lapu City at dawn of June 7, 2017.
Her body remains missing.
Gisela’s older sister, Mikay Bendong, said the pain of losing a beloved has not died down.
“It’s just not easy to move on,” she said in an interview after the arraignment.
“We’re nonetheless happy that the case has now started after waiting for a year,” she added.
Trial proper is scheduled on Sept. 7.
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