JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II swiftly resolved the appeal of the prosecution to let the Lapu-Lapu City court continue with the trial of the cases against Bohol Provincial Board (PB) Member Niño Rey Boniel and two alleged cohorts.
Aguirre reversed the resolution of Justice Undersecretary Reynante Orceo, who earlier ordered to withdraw the parricide case against Boniel and the murder case against Willy Hoylar and Restituto Magoncia.
The DOJ chief’s resolution came within 24 hours after Senior Supt. Jonathan Cabal, former intelligence chief of the Police Regional Office (PRO) in Central Visayas, filed the motion to reverse its ruling to drop the cases against Boniel and his two co-accused.
“We are mindful that we have the duty to determine whether or not there is probable cause to indict Boniel of the crime of parricide. This is an executive determination of probable cause, which is entirely different from the judicial determination of probable cause,” read Aguirre’s five-page resolution dated March 27.
The DOJ ruling granted the prosecution’s motion for reconsideration and set aside Undersecretary Orceo’s resolution.
The trial of the parricide case against Boniel, and the murder case against Hoylar and Magoncia will proceed before Judge Ferdinand Collantes of the Regional Trial Court Branch 65 in Lapu-Lapu City.
But defense lawyer Inocencio de la Cerna said that Aguirre’s reversal of the resolution is not surprising.
“It (DOJ resolution) is more of a political judgment rather than one based on legal circumstances,” said de la Cerna in a text message to reporters.
He noted the importance of jurisdiction, which he said might have “dire and serious consequences” to the prosecution particularly when the case reaches the Supreme Court.
In his 12-page resolution dated Jan. 29, 2018, Orceo granted the petition for review filed by Boniel, who sought to reverse the resolution by the Office of the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor, which indicted him for parricide.
Orceo “reversed and set aside” the resolution indicting Boniel of parricide and directed the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s Office to withdraw parricide charge sheet, which was raffled to the sala of Collantes.
Apart from Boniel, Orceo also directed the prosecutors to withdraw the murder case against Boniel’s two co-accused.
But Supt. Cabal, through the prosecution lawyers, argued that had “more than good reasons” to junk Boniel’s petition for review.
The intention of the accused was really to kill Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Boniel and the kidnapping is “merely incidental” to the parricide case, the prosecution argued.
The prosecution panel included lawyers Amando Virgil Ligutan, Sunshine R. Enriquez, and Florleane A. Sacares.
In his resolution, Aguirre agreed with the prosecution that the special complex crime of kidnapping with murder is misplaced.
“The act of kidnapping the mayor is not a necessary means to kill her...the circumstances all point to the primary and only intent of Niño Boniel in taking her wife was to kill her,” said Aguirre.
The DOJ secretary also said that the parricide case was properly filed in RTC Lapu-Lapu City, where the crime was committed.
Cabal, in a separate interview, welcomed the decision of Aguirre as this means that the trial will continue in the Lapu-Lapu trial court.
“The best thing for the lawyers in the defense is to let your client be heard in court,” he said in a phone conference with reporters.
Cabal, when he was still the Regional Intelligence Division chief, led the operation to arrest Boniel and other suspects last year for the murder of Boniel’s wife, Gisela.
Gisela was a town mayor in Bohol at the time of her murder.