After a searing backlash, Justice Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre II decided to reverse the decision on the petition for review that led to the withdrawal of the parricide case against Bohol third district Board Member Niño Rey “In-in” Boniel.
Aguirre’s move paved the way for the trial of Board Member Boniel for parricide filed in Lapu-Lapu City.
The board member has been accused as the one who killed his wife, Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Bendong-Boniel last June 2017.
As the new development surfaced, kin of the slain lady mayor thanked Aguirre for the swift action on the case.
The appreciation over the move of the justice secretary was relayed through the slain mayor’s family counsel, lawyer Virgil Ligutan.
“We thank [Aguirre] for his swift action,” said Ligutan.
Aguirre said he wasn’t aware about the decision made by Justice Undersecretary Reynante Orceo.
Orceo, back in January, ordered the withdrawal of charges against Boniel.
Aguirre signed on Tuesday the reversal of Orceo’s decision.
“The instant motion for reconsideration is granted and the assailed resolution dated January 29, 2018 is hereby reversed and set aside. Consequently, the directive to the Office of the City Prosecutor of Lapu-Lapu to withdraw the information for parricide against Niño Rey Boniel and the information for murder against Willy Hoylar and Restituto Magoncia Jr is similarly reversed,” said the resolution signed by Aguirre.
Aguirre reversed the decision of the undersecretary barely a week after the decision was made public.
“We therefore find that the information for Parricide sufficiently alleges that the offense was committed within the waters of Lapu-Lapu City where Niño Boniel killed his wife and thereafter dumped the body thereat,” said Aguirre.
There was an order to withdraw the case filed in Lapu-Lapu city on the parricide case due to lack of jurisdiction.
“To rule that there is multiplicity of actions would run counter to that fundamental rule that venue is jurisdictional in criminal cases. As such, the complaint was properly filed with and the case must rightly be tried in the Regional Trial Court of Lapu-Lapu City.”
Aguirre said the Lapu-Lapu court already gained jurisdiction to try the parricide case, as he added: “we deem it proper and prudent not to interfere with the judicial powers if only to show courtesy to the courts and uphold the rule of law.”
Aguirre said the office of the justice secretary will not be “a party to any perceived miscarriage of justice” saying the law will be applied “without fear or favor to any case”.
With the resolution, Aguirre granted the instant motion for reconsideration, reversing the decision made back in January to withdraw the information about the parricide case and the resolution has been “set aside”.
Furor over the withdrawal of the parricide case mounted last week following the release of the decision from the Justice Department.
The arraignment of the principal suspects in the case was delayed in deference to the petition for review filed by BM Boniel’s counsel.
Orceo in an 11-page resolution made public more than a week ago, said the Lapu-Lapu Prosecutor’s Office had no jurisdiction over the parricide case.
The resolution ordered the Lapu-Lapu Prosecutors’ Office to withdraw the information for the parricide charges and set them aside.
Also, Orceo’s resolution ordered the withdrawal charges against the board member’s alleged conspirators—Willy Hoylar and Restituto Mangocia Jr.
Orceo’s resolution said it is the Bohol courts which have the jurisdiction of the case, and not the ones in Cebu, since the crime happened in Bohol.
The resolution said the killing should not be separate with the kidnapping.
The lawyer for the slain mayor said the DOJ did not focus on the merits of the case, rather on the technicality.
“What he (Orceo) is saying in his resolution is that it should be the Office of the Bohol Provincial Prosecutor that must take cognizance of the complaint,” Ligutan said.
“The killing, if found by the prosecutor’s office in Bohol to have been committed, could not be considered a separate crime,” Orceo’s resolution said.
“The kidnapping, which allegedly took place in Bohol would be considered a necessary means to commit the murder. And since the investigation commenced in Bohol, it should take cognizance of the case,” it added.
Gisela, who hailed from Iligan City, was allegedly kidnapped and murdered in the first week of June last year, in a crime that shocked the Boholanos worldwide and sent shockwaves among Filipino communities.
While conspiracy theories had surfaced following the alleged murder of Gisela, many continue to believe that Gisela has been dead due to her sudden disappearance.
Her body, according to witnesses’ accounts, was allegedly thrown into the sea off Lapu-Lapu City.
A month-long search for her body by volunteer divers did not provide any clue where Gisela’s body was actually hidden, buried, or thrown off.
Board member Boniel is currently detained at a jail facility in Cebu City after the Supreme Court granted a request that his detention should be transferred from Talibon, Bohol to Cebu City.
Despite his absence, board member Boniel’s office at the old Capitol building continues to function.
Meanwhile, the vice-mayor of Bien-Unido, Rene Borinaga, had assumed the seat of Mayor Gisela.