Nobleza is no double agent
Just when one thought that the military is headed for a protracted game of cat and mouse with the Abu Sayyaf bandits, two major developments occurred that turned that game around and gave peace-loving Pinoys something to cheer about and rally behind.
The first was the crucial bit of information given by the motorela driver to the police about two foul-smelling, hungry men who boarded his vehicle and asked him to bring them to the nearest store to buy food.
The motorela driver’s suspicions proved correct as the foul-smelling men happened to be the Abu Sayyaf bandits who ran ragged and retreated to the nearest cave after being defeated by the military whose victory came with the high cost of lives lost.
The second and most upsetting development came when Supt. Maria Cristina Nobleza and her driver/lover/husband Reinerlo Lou Dongon were caught by police after trying to escape a checkpoint in Clarin town, Bohol.
What happened afterward was the stuff of espionage movies and TV shows: Nobleza’s Sayyaf links traced all the way back to her stint in Mindanao, namely the Davao region, and her sheltering the relatives of Dongon in her home in Malaybalay town, Bukidnon province.
Also uncovered by the police were Dongon’s links to the bombings that claimed several lives in a commercial establishment and one hotel in Cagayan de Oro City.
And we can all thank Joselito Milloria, a Boholano native who married into the dreaded bandit group, for ushering in the menace that is the Abu Sayyaf by escorting the bandits straight to the backdoor of Central Visayas via Inabanga town in Bohol province.
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While a lot of Cebu-based residents had reason to be relieved that the Abu Sayyaf threat had been mostly neutralized right at Bohol and have voiced public condemnation over Nobleza’s betrayal of her duty as a top police official, PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa made mention of the possibility that she was a PNP “deep penetration agent” assigned to spy on the bandit group.
Anyone with a casual interest in military history, strategy and tactics know that double agents — dubbed in local military parlance as “deep penetration agent” which to the green-minded connotes something, uhm, sexual — have been operating since the time of recorded history.
A perusal through Google shows up search results like “Mata Hari,” the Dutch courtesan/dancer who was convicted and executed in France for serving as a spy for Germany in World War I.
In fact, the expression “sleeping with the enemy” was coined based on Mata Hari who managed to seduce and sleep with high-ranking European military officials while spilling sensitive security information to her German masters.
The archetype of Mata Hari as female double agent is played up in TV shows like “Alias,” the James Bond and Tom Clancy movies, and it almost always involves said agent getting intimate with the target even to the point of marrying into their family.
Such isn’t the case with Nobleza, however, as dela Rosa himself admitted that if she were a double agent, they would have at least operational knowledge of her activities.
And based on the published news stories detailing the accounts of police officials in the Davao region where Nobleza was assigned, she preferred to isolate herself from them and even demanded that she be allowed to stay in a hotel preferably near a police precinct.
Whatever Nobleza’s fate, one thing is certain — the PNP will try to tap her for information on more Abu Sayyaf activities and she certainly won’t end up anywhere except behind bars lest she ends up dead.
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More importantly, the deaths of the bandits sends a strong signal and warning to the Abu Sayyaf that their criminal activities, let alone their presence, will not be tolerated anywhere in Central Visayas, or so says Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, Police Regional Office chief.
There’s no sense of finality to his statement, however, and even if the military and police can initiate a lockdown of Bohol or any province or city in the region at a moment’s notice, it remains to be seen if the Abu Sayyaf will avoid Central Visayas in general and Cebu in particular lik the plague.
Or worse, this misadventure will only incite and spur the bandits into being more careful and covert in their kidnap-for-ransom operations. Then again, they will have to deal with the vigilant citizens of Bohol and Cebu who, even if last week’s armed encounters scared them out of their wits, will refuse to be cowed into submission.
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