Loose port security had been a factor in the penetration of the rescue group of the Abu Sayyaf led by a ranking female police officer in the Davao region.
Gov. Edgar Chatto noted thatÂ PSupt.Â Maria CristinaÂ Nobleza, the deputy chief of the Davao Region Crime Laboratory, a younger man, an elderly woman and a teenager could easily pass as a family on tour without inviting suspicion at checkpoints.
Nobleza reached Bohol together with one of the trained bomb makers of Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao, identified as Renoor Lou Dongon, an elderly woman whose children married ASG leaders such as Zulkifli Abdhir alias “Marwan,” Khadaffy Abubakar Janjalani, Abu Sulayman al-Muhajir and Ahmed Santos. A teenager who turned out to be Santos’ child was also with them.
In normal protocol, they could easily get pass through a checkpoint because it is expected that the firearms and ammunitions they were bringing must have been concealed in hidden compartments of the vehicles and that they are could not be detected on plain view.Â Â Â Â Â
However, Chatto shared an experience where at times when he would attend a meeting in Cebu, he would bring a vehicle, and noticed that the security inspection was loose whether the security force was aware that he was an official or not.
He said he also observed this being done to other vehicles, that security inspection was not that strict and tight.
Nobleza and companions reached Bohol travelling on roro vessel to Manila, then heading Bohol through Leyte, crossing to Ubay.
Had the port security personnel been made familiar of the ASG-linked personalities, they could have flagged down the group promptly, noting on the presence of Dongon, the elderly woman who turned out to be mother-in-law of a number of ASG men, and the teenager who is also reportedly a ranking member of the ASG.
This is considering that Dongon has a pending murder case in Cagayan de Oro City.
Chatto said that both in the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) and the Special Action Committee (SAC) meetings, concerns on the efficiency of checkpoints always crop up.
Checkpoints and port security are always raised which Chatto said should be aÂ coordinated effort of the regular law enforcement group of the police that the portâ€™s own security forces.
As lesson to the Nobleza experience, Chatto said security procedures at the port areas should be improved.
The provincial government, for its part, is training more K-9 dogs to aid in the security procedures at ports.
Chatto admitted that it might be limited, but if law enforcers would be able to build it up, it would be of great help already.
He added that security personnel may not be at the ports at all times, but what is needed is to have an on-the-spot checks, so that the people will also be aware that when they travel, they can be inspected anytime at the area.
Chatto elaborated that Nobleza and company might have passed through checkpoints without being detected, but the tight blockage surrounding the encounter area in Clarin forced them in quandary for an exit in the effort to pick up the ASG stragglers.
Chatto described that Nobleza and company were already just 200 meters from the command center.
It was their desperation to get through the blockage at the height of firefight that forced them to evade the checkpoints which raised suspicion.
They were eventually flagged down and were interrogated at the police station the morning after.
There were some information that they did not actually travel together from Mindanao to Manila.
In some ports in Mindanao, the port personnel take photos of passengers before giving the pass to board the vessel.
Baggage are being subjected to tight inspection where they are queued and the K-9 dogs sniff on them.
This are not being practiced in Cebu and Bohol at present.