He was born in Tegucigalpa (1858). He graduated as a Lawyer in 1878. Deputy and Political Governor of the department of Tegucigalpa during the Administration of Luis Bográn. Candidate for the Presidency in 1891, he was defeated by Ponciano Leiva, the official candidate. Upon being exiled, he left for Nicaragua, returning to Honduras in 1894, and with Nicaraguan support, defeated the government troops led by Domingo Vásquez. The president of Honduras from 1893 to 1899. In 1903 he was elected deputy of Copán, leading the Liberal opposition against the Government of General Manuel Bonilla, for which he was taken prisoner along with other deputies in February 1904, which meant a coup of State. He was released in 1906.
In 1907 he led the rebellion that overthrew Don Manuel. During the Presidency of Miguel R. Dávila he was appointed delegate of Honduras to the Washington Conferences and later Minister of Honduras in Mexico. Head of the Honduran Delegation during the mediation held in the US capital to resolve the border problem between Honduras and Guatemala, representative of Honduras at the Versailles conferences; Deputy of the Federal Constituent Assembly, on the occasion of the centenary of the proclamation of Central American Independence, which issued the Political Constitution of the Republic of Central America. Candidate for the Presidency for a sector of the Liberal Party for the 1923 elections, obtaining second place behind the winner, Tiburcio Carias. He passed away in New Orleans (1926).
For Guillen Zelaya, Policarpo Bonilla is the Honduran who has contributed the most to creating the love of freedom in the individual and collective conscience. It can be said that it corresponds to him, from the point of view of freedoms, the most important political reform that has taken place in Honduras but that of Policarpo Bonilla was not a government of administration, tenacity, courage, intelligence, they were virtues that They joined in the personality of Dr. Policarpo Bonilla, one of the Hondurans who have most deeply moved the national soul, to whom the most important political evolution carried out to date in Honduras is owed.
Before Policarpo Bonilla, citizen rights existed only as a claim of a few, generally of the spirits of reelection. After the meeting that he held and that placed him in the Presidency of the Republic, freedom of suffrage and freedom of thought were already a collective conscience and the people have demanded their permanence as something necessary and inalienable in the life of the Republic. … is undoubtedly one of the heroes of Honduran public liberties.
According to Ramón Oquelí, Bonilla was a politician who with courage, civic integrity, ambition for leadership, and a well-considered strategy, tried to produce decisive changes in Honduran public life and rebuild Central America, his obsessive dream.
For Paulino Valladares, the only ruler who systematically tried to organize a party government was Doctor Don Policarpo Bonilla.
Ecclesiastical named him Párroco del Sagrario de Comayagua in 1862. Having come into conflict with President José María Medina, he was forced to leave the country in 1864 heading to Salvadoran territory. He supported the Olancho faction that rebelled in 1864-65 against the authority of Medina. Upon returning to his country, he moved to Choluteca, being appointed priest of that parish.
During the government of Céleo Arias he was exiled to Mexico, where he lived for fourteen years, returning to the Salvadoran port of La Unión, where he died. Antonio R. Vallejo said of him: «He was a convinced, enthusiastic, firm conservative, who did not avoid any fatigue, in exchange for his party ruling in Honduras.