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Sleeping with the enemy

opinion / Columnists
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At Large

Sleeping with the enemy

What is it about the Duterte administration officials that they relish stories of women “sleeping with the enemy”?

With barely concealed glee, Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa explained to the media how police superintendent Ma. Cristina Nobleza got entangled with suspected Abu Sayyaf operative Renierlo Lou Dongon. The two, with Dongon acting as the driver and with two passengers, were caught by police elements when they sped away from a checkpoint in Bohol in the midst of a manhunt for ASG stragglers.

The country, and perhaps the world, were stunned when it was reported that members of the terrorist group had landed in Bohol allegedly on a “kidnap for ransom” mission. Bohol plays host to a number of resorts and destinations that have drawn tourists from all over.

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The PNP has forwarded the story, and it seems just a story thus far, that Nobleza and Dongon started their affair after the police officer interviewed the suspected Abu Sayyaf member, at a time when Nobleza was working in an intelligence agency. A cursory reading of Nobleza’s service record would show that she had reached, by the time she met Dongon, a fairly senior position and had taken part in sensitive operations.

It’s still a mystery why Nobleza, who is separated from her husband, also a police officer, would risk her career and future prospects on a romantic adventure with a terrorist. To the extent, moreover, of showing up in the midst of a massive operation to go after remaining ASG members. That an escape plan from the island was in the works seems indicated since among the items found in the pick-up were diving gear.

This isn’t the first instance, though, where a female police official or prison employee has been accused of aiding and abetting the escape of a criminal, all in the name of love, or what passes for it.

In 2015, Joyce Mitchell, who worked in a New York state prison as a tailor, was sentenced up to seven years behind bars for helping two convicts—Richard Matt and David Sweat—to escape from the Clinton New York facility. She was accused of providing tools and equipment for escape for the two inmates while also contracting them to kill her husband. After the two managed to break out, prosecutors said, Mitchell met the pair outside the prison, with a plan to proceed to her home where the convicts were supposed to kill her husband. Mitchell and Sweat were then supposed to escape the police dragnet together, while Matt would go off on his own.

But Mitchell said she changed her mind and abandoned the pair of convicts after driving away from the prison. Explaining her actions, Mitchell said: “I was caught up in the fantasy. I enjoyed the attention, the feeling both of them gave me, and the thought of a different life.”

Well, talk about a mid-life crisis. It just so happens that Nobleza is about the same age as Mitchell, though her supposed involvement with Dongon seems to have been driven deeper, with authorities saying that the police officer had even converted to Islam shortly after her meeting with the ASG member.

But it remains a puzzle why someone with Nobleza’s experience and exposure would be so vulnerable to the blandishments, if blandishments there were, of an identified terrorist. There also seems to be no small amount of arrogance in this incident, with Nobleza seemingly counting on her rank to protect her from suspicion at a time when law enforcement was in hot pursuit of the ASG, their presence in Bohol certainly a huge embarrassment for the PNP.

Typically, President Duterte is said to have blown his top at reports of the involvement of Nobleza (and another suspected police official) in the attempt to help the ASG escape from Bohol. I suspect his ire is but part and parcel of his generally misogynistic views, in which a woman pursuing the call of her heart is automatically deemed a criminal and a sinner. Maybe that’s why “Bato” dela Rosa was so eager to tell the story.

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TAGS: Abu Sayyaf, Duterte administration, Ma. Cristina Nobleza, Renierlo Lou Dongon, sleeping with the enemy
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