A sudden bandit incursion, an unlikely love affair and a trail of bomb parts have dragged the peaceful province of Bohol to the center of media attention and left some of its residents and industries reeling from one militant-initiated incident to another.
This was after intelligence officers of the Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO) found bomb-making paraphernalia at an apartment rented by police Supt. Ma. Cristina Nobleza and purported boyfriend alleged Abu Sayyaf bomb-maker Renierlo Dongon in Baranga Looc, Panglao on Tuesday morning.
According to the Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB), their team along with policemen in Panglao found a C-4 plastic explosive, a detonating cord, a blasting cap, and a blasting cap kit at the apartment of Nobleza, former deputy chief of the Region 11 police crime lab.
The two suspects were already in Panglao on April 17 two days prior to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations trade meetings in the town, based on initial police investigation.
Nobleza, 49, and Dongon who is reportedly in his 20â€™s and is wanted for double murder have been accused of attempting to rescue ASG bandits who survived the clashes in Inabanga two weeks ago and in Clarin on Saturday.
The two suspects were nabbed on Saturday night in Barangay Bacani, Clarin after they drove past a police checkpoint while a gunfight went on between army troops and at least four Abu Sayyaf stragglers in the said village.
They were taken under police custody along with two other passengers, a teenager and an elderly woman believed to be a mother-in-law of key ASG personalities including the bandit groupâ€™s late leader Khaddafy Janjalani who was killed in 2006.
Authorities had found on the next day bullets energy drinks, canned goods, diving gear, goggles, food, clothes, cellphones and a first aid kit inside their vehicle, a black Nissan Navara.
In Noblezaâ€™s cellphone, the police allegedly recovered text conversations with one of the ASG stragglers in the province who was asking to be rescued.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Rolando dela Rosa on Monday bared Nobleza and Dongonâ€™s romantic relationship as he accused her of â€œsleeping with the enemy.â€
â€œLumabas sa initial investigation, she is a balik-Islam and she is romantically involved or romantically linked with the driver (of the vehicle) Dungon.Â Mag-uyab sila, mag-boyfriend, girlfriend,â€ said Dela Rosa during a press conference.
According to dela Rosa, the two had met while Dongon was a detainee and Nobleza was assigned at the now-defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC).
â€œNoong nakakulong si Dongon dito, siya â€˜yung taga interview kasi member siya ng PAOCC noon. Sigi siya interview habang nakakulong si Dongon hanggang sa they let the love begin,â€ Dela Rosa said in a televised interview.
Nobleza and Dongon are now in Camp Crame in Quezon City after she was transported from Tagbilaran City at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, said Police Supt. Rene Kyamko, chief of the Provincial Investigation and Detective Management Branch.
The suspects who dela Rosa tagged as â€œhigh-riskâ€ detainees were escorted by BPPO policemen including its director Sr. Supt. Felipe Natividad at the airport, said Kyamko.
They arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport through a commercial flight at past 9 a.m. and were immediately taken to the PNP headquarters.
Since authorities discovered that ASG fighters had slipped into Bohol on April 12, eight bandits have been killed by government troops.
Four suspected ASG men were killed including ASG leader Muamar Askali, alias Abu Rami, in the Inabanga encounter while Bohol native Joselito Melloria and three others were gunned down in Clarin on Saturday cutting down the total number of remaining bandits to three. (Rey Tutas and Weli Maestrado)Â