THE Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 is apparently on the defensive nowadays in Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Bendong-Boniel’s case. With the focus being on the search for the mayor’s body in the seas off Caubian island in Lapu-Lapu City, an effort that has already lasted for more than a week, reports on the case and statements by lawyers of Provincial Board Member Niño Rey Boniel and his alleged cohorts in Gisela’s slay are putting into question established claims.
The search is being done in the area pinpointed by Niño’s cousin Riolito “Etad” Boniel, who claimed to have acted as the boatman when Gisela was slain, as the place where her body was thrown. But a dive shop owner in Lapu-Lapu city reportedly said the route Etad said they used is only passable during high tide because of the presence of big rocks there.
That at least puts a bit of a doubt on his testimony and worries the search may have been conducted in the wrong place. Or the question now is, was he telling the truth?
Now come the statements made by one of Niño Rey’s lawyers, former Cebu City councilor Gerardo Carillo, accusing the police of coaching witnesses to implicate their client in the Bien Unido mayor’s slaying. He then raised the possibility Gisela could still be alive, pointing to a claim by a lifestyle writer of a Bohol newspaper who claimed she talked on the phone with the mayor 18 hours after she was reported killed.
Another lawyer, this time the legal counsel of the PB member’s alleged accomplices, has threatened to file a case against Regional Intelligence Division (RID) Chief Jonathan Cabal for asking his clients to surrender when no warrants of arrest have been issued against them. In response, Cabal described them as “enterprising” and “flip-flopping” lawyers and stressed the police would not be stymied by the “veiled threat.”
These developments showed that there is still a long way to go in the case and that there is no room for complacency because the quest for the truth can easily be muddled when respondents in a case resolve to put up a good legal fight. In fact, the legal tug-of-war is only starting to heat up.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on June 20, 2017.
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