MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – “Sleeping with the enemy.”
National police chief Ronald dela Rosa on Monday, April 24, confirmed reports a commissioned police officer was detained in Clarin, Bohol for supposedly planning to rescue Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members being pursued by government forces in the area.
According to Cebu Daily News, Superintendent Maria Christina Nobleza was detained on Saturday, April 22, after attempting to avoid a police checkpoint in Clarin.
Nobleza was reportedly inside a van driven by Renierlo Dongon, who is suspected to have links to the terror group.
Government forces in Bohol are pursuing members of the ASG following two armed encounters in the province. On April 11, police and military launched their first operation against members of the group who had supposedly plotted to kidnap tourists in popular island destination.
“Lumabas sa investigation, but initially this is what we have come up with… is that [Nobleza] is Balik-Islam and she is romantically involved or romantically linked with the ASG member, the driver,” said Dela Rosa in a press conference in Camp Crame on April 24.
In a later press conference, Dela Rosa said President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Nobleza "detained and incarcerated." The PNP chief said their Legal Service and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) were working on cases to file against her, including the illegal possession of firearms and colluding with a suspected terrorist.
Nobleza is currently the deputy regional chief of the PNP Crime Laboratory in the Davao Region. Cebu Daily News said the suspect claimed she was in Clarin for vacation.
But Dela Rosa said their attempt to avoid the checkpoint raised suspicion.
Government forces in Central Visayas had been monitoring reports that the remaining ASG members were awaiting rescue from the province, a source told Rappler.
Dela Rosa said checkpoints had been placed all over the province as part of government’s efforts to chase after the remaining ASG members.
Cebu Daily News said investigators got her cellular phone and “saw a text message purportedly from one of the Abu Sayyaf members, begging to be rescued.”
Nobleza had been part of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) and was re-assigned to the Crime Laboratory in Davao after the group was ordered dismantled by President Rodrigo Duterte.
According to a police source, Nobleza had also been assigned to the Directorate for Intelligence, the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission, and the Office of the Chief of the PNP, during her career.
Nobleza has so far denied allegations against her, police in Central Visayas told Rappler. But Dela Rosa said she faces both administrative and criminal complaints. – Rappler.com