Police not yet giving up on finding Bohol mayor’s dead body

Michael O. Ligalig
Police not yet giving up on finding Bohol mayor’s dead body
Boniel's body was believed to have been thrown into the sea waters between the islands of Caubian and Olango off Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu, after she was allegedly murdered by her husband on June 6, 2017

BOHOL, Philippines – Nearly two months of unsuccessfully searching for the dead body of Bien Unido, Bohol Mayor Gisela Bendong-Boniel, a police official said he is optimistic they would still find her remains.

Boniel was believed to have been abducted and killed over marital issues.

“As soon as we have the funds we will resume the search and retrieval operations,” said Senior Superintendent Jonathan Cabal, head of the intelligence division of the Cebu-based Police Regional Office (PRO-7).

Boniel’s body was believed to have been thrown into the sea waters between the islands of Caubian and Olango off Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu, after she was allegedly murdered on June 7, 2017.

Speaking with reporters on his visit to Bohol Thursday, August 3, Cabal said volunteer technical divers have not reached even half of the estimated 1,400-feet depth of the sea area where the mayor’s dead body was reportedly dumped, as claimed by a witness.

“Divers were only able to dive up to 200 feet deep,” Cabal said, citing the lack of advanced equipment that could have prolonged the search activity. 

The mission to find Gisela’s remains was halted a month ago until police are able to raise additional funds.

Cabal said law enforcers, based on technical divers’ recommendations, need at least P2 million for rental of a special diving gear.

Admitting that the police are cash-trapped to proceed with the retrieval operations that require a lot of logistics, Cabal said they welcome funds, which may be solicited from individuals or local government units.

Retrieval operation

Bohol Governor Edgar M. Chatto, at a weekly press briefing Friday, August 4, said he has assured PRO-7 director Chief Superintendent Jose Mario Espino of the province’s continued support for the search and retrieval operation.

“From the very beginning, the provincial government and the Provincial Peace and Order Council have been supportive of the police effort to find Gisela’s body,” the governor told media.

Chatto said the province is ready to release additional funds upon the formal request of the police.

Boniel’s husband, Bohol board member Niño Rey Boniel, has been implicated in the death of his wife. 

He is currently detained at a district jail in Talibon town, Bohol, where he awaits trial on charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention. The parricide case against the husband of Boniel has been filed in a court in Lapu-Lapu City.

In a sworn statement, Niño denied involvement in the kidnap-slay that was put in the national limelight. He claimed his wife is still alive and is “just” hiding in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) owing to a huge amount of personal debts.

Asked to comment on claims that Mayor Gisela, a commercial pilot of AirAsia before she entered politics upon the prodding of her husband, is in Dubai, Cabal said such statement is a “figment of their imagination.” 

Cabal asserted a crime was committed despite the absence of Gisela’s body. The case was bolstered by the recent DNA test result – the alleged bloodstains of Gisela matched what was recovered from the pump boat used to transport the lady mayor’s dead body, and the swabs of saliva from Gisela’s mother.

Meanwhile, Cabal hopes that the national government could acquire more advanced equipment for provinces or regions surrounded by sea waters for retrieval operations during sea mishaps or shipwrecks. – Rappler.com

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