The Supreme Court (SC) has approved a petition seekingthe transfer of venue for case hearing and detention of provincial board member Niño Rey Boniel, alleged suspect in the reported death of his wife Bien-Unido Mayor Gisela Bendong-Boniel.
SC ordered that the courts in Cebu will handle the cases of BM Boniel, who is currently detained at a jail facility in Talibon, Bohol.
The same SC resolution mandated the Talibon Regional Trial Court branch 52 to issue a commitment order for the immediate detention in the Cebu Provincial Jail of the prime suspect in the killing of the lady mayor of Bien Unido.
“Direct the Presiding Judge of the RTC, Branch 52, Talibon, Bohol, to issue a commitment order/s for the immediate detention of all the accused in Criminal Case Nos. 17-4271 and 17-4216 at the Cebu Provincial Jail located in Cebu City, Cebu,” the resolution reads.
As a result of the SC ruling, a trial court based in Cebu City will try the kidnapping and serious illegal detention cases against BM Boniel.
The two cases, filed by the former mayor’s best friend Angela Leyson and her son,have been tried in Bohol.
The SC en banc approved the request of the Secretary of Justice Vitaliano Aguirre and the camp of the late lady mayor of Bien-Unido to transfer the cases filed in Tagbilaran to Cebu, reports said.
In a press conference held on Friday at the Holiday Plaza Hotel, lawyers of the lady mayor’s camp led by Amando Virgil Ligutan told reporters about SC’s granting of the petition to transfer the venue of the hearing.
Ligutan said that they received the order from the SC en banc dated November 7, only on November 21.
The counsel for the camp of the lady mayor said the pre-trial for the kidnapping and serious illegal detention cases has yet to start.
For one, the transfer of the cases may prevent the accused from influencing potential witnesses, said the late lady mayor’s camp.
BM Boniel remains to be a member of the provincial board since he is not yet found guilty by a competent court.
Leysonsaid the decision gave her a huge sigh of relief.
“I’m very, very happy. I’m looking forward that justice will be served,” she said.
The camp of the late lady mayor is offering a P200,000 reward to anyone who could provide information to authorities that would lead to the arrest of the board member’s co-accused, Lobo Boniel and Allan delos Reyes Jr. who all remain at large.
The victim’s family said that the bounty is P100,000 for each suspect.
For his part, Police Regional Intelligence Division chief Senior Supt. Jonathan Cabal continued to urge the public to report on the whereabouts of the suspects.
“We’ll be coordinating with the BJMP because as we all know, the Board Member is incarcerated at the Talibon District Jail and the thing that we can do is provide security and escort the accused to Cebu,” said Cabal, as quoted by the Freeman.
Lawyer Inocencio dela Cerna, one of the respondent’s counsels, said the resolution does not mean a victory for the lady mayor’s camp.
De la Cerna added the transfer of venue would not, in any way,weaken their defense.
“Be that as it may, nevertheless we are prepared for trial already,” DelaCerna said.
A separate parricide case was earlier filed against Niño Rey and eight others and is now being handled by the Cebu RTC.
CONSOLIDATION OF CASES
Back in October, Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Ann Lou Fernandez-Cavada rejected Boniel’s plea to have the two criminal cases against him consolidated and be jointly heard in the Regional Trial Court in Talibon town.
The judge ruled that there is no legal basis to consolidate the two cases without violating the jurisdictional aspect of the case.
Fernandez-Cavada also moved the arraignment of the board member to December 8 for charges of allegedly conniving to murder the former lady mayor of Bien Unido.
The judge granted the petition of BM Boniel’s camp to move the arraignment pending the outcome of their petition before the Department of Justice.
Including in the charge sheet indicted by the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s Office were Allan delos Reyes, Jr., Wilfredo Hoylar, Jr., Lobo Boniel, Randel Lupas, RestitutoMagoncia, Jr. and Riolito “Etad” Boniel.
Before the SC ruled on the case venue, the kidnapping and serious illegal detention case were filed in the RTC Branch 52 in Bohol while the parricide case is being tried in the RTC in Cebu City.
The case of BM Boniel has been one of the most sensational issues that hit the headlines this year.
Allegedly, BM Boniel killed his wife on June 7, 2017 and threw the body off Caubian Island in Lapu-Lapu City.
There were several angles have been considered as to the motive why the BM allegedly killed his wife.
The motive of a love triangle was seen, but Leyson dismissed the story the lady mayor had an affair.
The board member has allegedly admitted killing his wife in front of former PNP regional director Chief Supt. NoliTaliño.
However, after several days, the board member sang a different tune. He is no longer admitting he killed Gisela and even floated the idea the lady mayor is hiding abroad allegedly to avoid mounting debts.
The body of the lady mayor was the subject of a deep-water search after a witness told police where the body was allegedly dumped.
The body was wrapped in a blanket and placed inside a net with some rocks inserted to serve as aweight.
Several diving sorties joined in by volunteer divers yielded negative as the search was called off after several unfruitful weeks. (DSA)