More funds needed to resume search for mayor’s body

Police authorities remain hopeful that they would still be able to eventually locate and retrieve the dead body of Bien Unido, Bohol Mayor Gisela Bendong-Boniel despite previous unsuccessful attempts of finding her remains.

“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), of the police’s resolve of retrieving the dead body of Mayor Boniel, 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, Cabal said volunteer technical divers have not reached even half of the estimated 1,400 feet sea-deep of the 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 a lack of advanced equipment to prolong the search activity.

The mission to find Gisela’s remains was stopped a month ago until the police could also raise additional funds.

Cabal said law enforcers, based on technical divers’ recommendations, need at least P2 million for rentals 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.

Bohol Governor Edgar M. Chatto, at a weekly press briefing Friday, said he has assured PRO-7 director Chief Superintendent Jose Mario Espino of the province’s continued support to 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 on finding Gisela’s body,” the governor told media.

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

After Mayor Gisela was allegedly killed nearly two months ago, the public has been flooded with follow-up stories, and conspiracy theories have also floated in the saga of a crime that could be vulnerable to twisting, and even unexpected endings.

Mayor 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 Boniel has been filed in a court in Lapu-Lapu City.

In a sworn statement, Niño had denied involvement in a kidnap-slay that had captured the national limelight, claiming that 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 the crime has been committed despite the absence of Gisela’s body, and that the case has been bolstered by the recent DNA-test result which had matched the alleged bloodstains of Gisela, with was recovered from the pump boat that was 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 a more advanced equipment to provinces or regions surrounded by sea waters for retrieval operations during sea mishaps or shipwrecks, noting that a backward technology on retrieval operations remains in use in the country.

 

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