CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/25 April) — Authorities reportedly found bomb materials and arrested three persons during a raid on the house of police Supt. Maria Cristina Nobleza in Malaybalay City Monday night.
Nobleza, deputy chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Davao Region Crime Laboratory, was implicated in an attack staged by the Abu Sayyaf in Bohol after she was arrested with an alleged bomber identified as Reener Lou Dongon.
Nobleza, Dongon and two others who were on a green Nissan pickup, tried to evade a police checkpoint in Clarin town, Bohol when they were arrested last Saturday.
Dongon, who is said to belong to the shadowy Khilafa Islamiyah Movement, is facing double murder and frustrated murder cases for the October 2012 bombing at the Maxandrea Hotel in Cagayan de Oro that left two people dead including a policeman and two others injured.
He also faces another set of murder and frustrated murder cases for the July 26, 2013 bombing at a restobar in Limketkai Mall in Cagayan de Oro that left 10 persons dead and 46 others injured.
PNP Northern Mindanao spokesperson Supt. Lemuel Gonda said that acting on a search warrant, police and army operatives raided the house of Nobleza at Pine Hills Executive Homes in Purok 5, Barangay Casisang, Malaybalay City Monday night.
Gonda said the raiding team found 66 non-electric blasting caps, a timer for explosive device, and several bomb making components.
He said the raiders also seized an M16 rifle, a caliber 45 pistol and ammunition.
He said one person and two minors including the younger brother of Dongon were arrested.
He identified those arrested as Al Moammar Bayani, 22, a resident of Barangay San Juan, Baroy, Lanao del Norte.
Gonda did not identify the minors who were also from Lanao del Norte.
He said the police got a warrant to search the house of Nobleza after receiving an order from top PNP officials who were conducting a tactical interrogation on the police officer and Dongon.
“It was a matter of searching the official records of Nobleza because she was an active police officer. That is how we know of her residence,” he said.
He said Dongon’s picture was in the PNP wanted list of terrorists. He said this enabled the police in Bohol to identify him.
Meanwhile, the Police Regional Office (PRO) 11 has referred matters pertaining to Nobleza to the PNP Crime Laboratory in Camp Crame.
PRO 11 spokesperson Chief Insp. Andrea Dela Cerna said Nobleza’s mother unit has the administrative control and supervision over her.
“Although her place of work as crime lab officer is in Davao, PRO 11 does not have administrative control over her person, only operational supervision on matters of investigation,” she explained.
In a report aired on state-run PTV, PNP chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said President Rodrigo R. Duterte wants Nobleza sued for illegal possession of firearms, harboring of criminals, and conspiracy to commit terrorism.
Citing the PNP chief, the report said the ASG might just be using Nobleza, who is reportedly romantically linked to Dongon, to get information about the government but said she had no access to police intelligence.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Nobleza’s arrest underlines the need for vigilance in the campaign for peace in the country.
“The President is firm and decisive in the fight against terrorism. He has ordered government troops to carry out sustained, focused and intense operations to put an end to lawlessness and gruesome acts of violence,” he said. (Froilan Gallardo, with reports from Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)