Tuesday July 17, 2018

Seares: Ghost story won’t help Boniel defense

THE Bohol Chronicle story of June 11, which reported that its lifestyle writer, Raul Gatal, talked with Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Boniel on the phone, 18 hours after she was said to have been shot and dumped into the sea, doesn't support the claim of her husband's lawyers that she could still be alive.

Not at all. At most, the story (titled "Was it Georgie I talked to or her spirit?") regarded the incident as strange, which could be a ghost story but not evidence that Gisela was alive.

Reluctant psychic

In citing "Jimmy Licauco" -- who must be Jaime T. Licauco whose 1999 book "When the Impossible Happens" advertised him as a "reluctant psychic" -- the Bohol Chronicle story leaned towards the "spirit" angle, not the Gisela-must-be-alive theory.

Licauco, the story said, told the Chronicle, "Your writer was talking to Gisela's spirit." Which, the story said, could be added to stories of strange incidents.

Strange but no evidence that Gisela was up and about somewhere -- in Dubai, another alternative story floated by defense lawyers says -- and not a corpse under the sea.


When sparse details about the lifestyle writer's story was circulated, the initial suspicion was that he was being used by the Boniel camp. Not true, if you use the Chronicle story as gauge.

A ghost story wouldn't help the defense, not against the testimonies of living persons who said they saw the killing, not against the motive and opportunity that the accused had.

Skeptics abound on the existence of ghosts.

Licauco explained to the Chronicle that the "consciousness" of a person who dies "stays with him for some time." Catholics practice the 40-day novena for the recently deceased, about the same period that his spirit is "earth-bound."


That may explain stories of the dead showing up in the same body. Licauco in his book talked of his three personal encounters with ghosts, including that of his grandma Lola Candeng. In my hometown Sibonga, a story to which a storekeeper repeatedly swore tells about an old woman who showed up at her "sari-sari" store to pay her debt.

The storeowner chided her for bothering about a small amount so early in the morning. When she remembered the old woman had died the day before, she had paid and already left.

What would the appearance of Gisela’s "spirit" prove?

"OK lang. Mag-istory lang nya ta." Or something to that effect was her answer to the writer's call to Georgie (her Facebook account bears the name "Georgia Bendf").

Probative value

Giving some credence to a ghost story, which is what the Chronicle leans to, won't help the defense. It means Gisela was killed even if her spirit might still roam.

Fortunately for the defense as well, courts tend not to believe in ghosts and spirits, or more accurately, they are given scant "probative value." Gisela's being alive won't be proved by people testifying that they heard her on the phone or saw her after she was reported dead.