MANILA, Philippines – What is the connection of a Davao-based female police officer to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)?
This is what investigators are trying to find out now from Supt. Maria Christina Nobleza, deputy regional chief of the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory in Region 11, who was detained on suspicion that she went to Bohol to rescue the remaining ASG members being hunted down by authorities.
Nobleza was with Reenor Lou Dungon, said to be a brother-in-law of an ASG leader when she drove past a police checkpoint in Brgy. Bacani, Clarin, Bohol Saturday night, April 22, the same time when members of the terror group were being pursued by authorities.
Authorities chased Nobleza and Dungon in Sitio Kabakasan, which was just 150 meters away from the cave that served as ASG hideout.
‘Yong ating joint AFP and PNP forces ay nag-conduct ng…series of checkpoint to verify ang security do’n sa area. And then suddenly, mayroong isang pickup na nagdisregard ng isang checkpoint and then finlag down ng ating AFP and PNP. Doon sila nakita…malapit doon sa encounter,” Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, Central Visayas regional police director said Monday during an interview with dzMM radio.
[Our joint AFP and PNP forces were conducting a series of checkpoints to verify the security in the area. And then suddenly, there was a pickup that disregarded one of the checkpoints and it was flagged down by the AFP and PNP. That’s where they were seen near the encounter.]
Taliño said Nobleza and Dungon, who was her driver, would be charged with disobedience of persons in authority. He said Nobleza’s driver “has pending warrants” of arrest.
If the Davao police officer would be proven guilty of having links with the Abu Sayyaf, Nobleza would face a string of administrative and criminal charges, according to Taliño.
“Lahat ng kaso na p’wedeng ibato sa kanila ay ibabato natin sa kanila,” said Taliño.
News reports said the SIM card of Nobleza’s cellular phone was recovered inside the toilet of a Bohol police station where the Davao police officer was detained. Based on the text messages in the SIM card, it reportedly appeared that Nobleza was communicating with remaining ASG members in Clarin asking to be rescued.
But Taliño on Monday said he could not yet give information about the text messages because these were still being investigated.
“Hindi pa ako makakapbagibay ng detalye tungkol d’yan dahil part ng investigation ‘yan at inaantay din natin ‘yong mga mangagaling sa nag-iimbestiga,” he said.
Taliño said the black Nissan Navara pickup intercepted by authorities last Saturday had four passengers – Nobleza, her driver, an old woman, and a 13-year-old minor.
He said that based on initial investigation, the old woman, who was more than 60 years old was the mother-in-law of Nobleza’s driver, while the minor was the woman’s grandchild.
The minor was placed under the care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development while the old woman is being investigated, according to Taliño.
He said Nobleza and her three companions were staying on Panglao Island before they went to Clarin. Authorities are still investigating where they came before they went to Bohol.
“Ang lumalabas ay galing sila ng Panglao, pumunta sila doon sa area kung saan nagkaroon ng engkwentro at mahigpit na seguridad…’Yong ibang pinanggalingan nila ay kasama do’n sa investigation,” said Taliño.