MANILA (UPDATED) - The Department of Justice has reversed its earlier ruling that directed the withdrawal of parricide charges against a Bohol official tagged in his wife's slay in June last year.
In a resolution issued on March 27, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II reversed the resolution of Undersecretary Reynante Orceo, dated Jan. 29, regarding the case of Bohol Board Member Niño Rey Boniel.
"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant Motion for Reconsideration is GRANTED and the assailed Resolution dated January 29, 2018 is hereby REVERSED AND SET ASIDE," the resolution read.
"Consequently, the directive to the Office of the Prosecutor of Lapu-Lapu to withdraw the information for Parricide against Nino Rey Boniel and the Information for Murder against Willy Hoylar and Restituto Magoncia, Jr. is similarly REVERSED."
Orceo earlier granted Boniel's petition for review which sought a reversal of his indictment before the Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu Regional Trial Court.
Orceo ruled that the case should have been tried in Bohol, not Cebu, because of a pending kidnapping case in the former which preceded the killing of the victim.
Orceo said the cases in Cebu and Bohol should be a complex case wherein one cannot be separated from the others.
In reversing Orceo, Aguirre said the Lapu-Lapu City court has jurisdiction over the case because evidence established that Mayor Boniel was killed off the city's waters and her body dumped there.
Thus, the crime of parricide was committed within the waters of Lapu-Lapu City. The latest resolution stated that the filing of the case in Lapu-Lapu City is proper.
“The fact that the kidnapping transpired in Bohol is of no moment… We therefore find that the information for parricide sufficiently alleges that the offense was committed within the waters of Lapu-Lapu City where Ñino Rey Boniel killed [his] wife,” the resolution read.
The resolution further pointed out that the Lapu-Lapu RTC has already taken jurisdiction of the case by taking cognizance of it.
“To rule that the information for parricide should be withdrawn because of an alleged lack of jurisdiction would be violative of the rule on adherence to jurisdiction,” it said.
“Since the jurisdiction to try the case for parricide has already been vested in the competent court of Lapu-Lapu City, we deem it proper and prudent to not interfere with the judicial powers if only to show courtesy to the courts and uphold the rule of law,” it added.
It may be recalled that the DOJ formally urged the Supreme Court to transfer the venue of the trial of Boniel, Willie Hoylar, and Restituto Magoncia, Jr. to Cebu, which the high court granted in November 2017. The high court also ordered that the place of detention shall be the Cebu Provincial and Rehabilitation Center.
Boniel was tagged in the killing by the victim’s friend, Angela Leyson, who revealed Mayor Boniel wanted her marriage annulled and the couple had a fight over money.
Leyson narrated she was with the victim at a resort in Bien Unido on June 7th 2017 when six men barged into their room. Leyson said she slowly lost consciousness after her mouth was covered with duct tape and she was tasered in the neck.
Before she lost all consciousness, Leyson said she heard Gisela speak to her husband. Leyson claimed she saw Board Member Boniel punch Gisela in the stomach, and one of the men pointed a gun at her to warn her not to report the matter to authorities.
Leyson said that was the last time Gisela was seen alive.
Though Orceo’s resolution was issued in January, news broke about the order to withdraw Boniel and his co-accused’s indictment only over the weekend. On Monday, Aguirre told reporters he would summon Orceo to discuss the latter’s resolution, and rectify any error, if any.
Amando Virgil Ligutan, lawyer of the slain mayor's kin, said they did not expect a resolution on their motion for reconsideration this soon.
“We did not expect this to be this fast, but we said we were confident with the strong arguments that we raised and that we will get a reversal. We thank the Secretary of Justice for his swift action on our motion for reconsideration," he said.
Aguirre, in a statement, said the resolution shows that his office "will not be a party to any perceived miscarriage of justice."
"We will apply the law and the pertinent rule without fear or favor to any case," he said.