MANILA (UPDATED) - The Department of Justice has ordered the withdrawal of parricide charges against a Bohol official tagged in his wife's slay last year.
In a resolution dated March 22, the justice department granted Bohol Board Member Niño Rey Boniel's petition for review and ordered state prosecutors to withdraw the parricide charges against him.
Police charged Boniel with parricide last year before the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor's Office for allegedly killing his wife, Bien Unido, Bohol Mayor Gisela Boniel.
"The City Prosecutor of Lapu-Lapu City is hereby directed to cause the withdrawal of the Information for Parricide filed against Niño Rey Boniel," read the resolution signed by DOJ Undersecretary Reynante Orceo.
Boniel allegedly shot dead his wife while on board a boat off Caubian Island in Cebu on June 8, 2017. The body was then allegedly thrown overboard. The remains have yet to be found to this day.
Ethan Boniel, the suspect's cousin, earlier told authorities that the provincial official shot his wife using his own gun, then later put her body inside a net with the help of several others and tied it to a heavy rock.
The mayor's bestfriend Angela Leyson was the one who filed kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges against Boniel.
In its resolution, the DOJ also said courts in Bohol have jurisdiction over the case since the crime happened in the province, not Cebu.
Amando Virgil Ligutan, lawyer of the slain mayor's kin, said the family is "utterly disappointed" and plans to challenge the recent DOJ resolution.
Ligutan said despite the DOJ's reversal of the indictment, Board Member Boniel may not be released from detention because of a separate pending serious illegal detention case in court.
The lawyer added that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has already created a DOJ panel to prosecute the parricide case against the victim's husband.
"This was after the family of former Bien Unido Mayor Gisela B. Boniel visited the DOJ Secretary to seek legal help. Thus, Undersecretary Orceo's resolution sends a wrong signal to the family and to the public at large. The family hopes that the DOJ will rectify itself on the matter the soonest possible time," Ligutan said in a statement.
Ligutan also emphasized that the resolution "does not say that there is no probable cause to continue with the criminal charge for parricide against Provincial Board Member Niño Rey Boniel."
"All it says is that the parricide case should be complexed with the pending serious illegal detention case that was filed before the Regional Trial Court of Talibon, Bohol. As will be pointed out in a motion for reconsideration, the resolution is utterly wrong on the matter," he said.
Boniel earlier pleaded not guilty to the charges. He had admitted to having marital problems but said he did not kill his wife. -- report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News