BASILAN – Police captured a wanted member of the former rebel group Moro National Liberation Front, who turns out to be an election campaigner of President Rodrigo Duterte and member of the military’s Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary in Basilan, one of 5 provinces in the Muslim autonomous region.
Boy Benoh Hamja alias Jimmy Boy Hamja was captured in Tipo-Tipo town in Basilan province after police commandos tracked him down and raided his hideout in the remote village of Bohe Baka late Tuesday afternoon.
Hamja is facing a string of criminal charges and also included in the regional list of police most wanted man. He was charged with robbery-in-band, extortion, gunrunning, illegal drug trade among other cases in Tawi-Tawi and Basilan.
Police also recovered different identification cards from Hamja that showed him being a member of the MNLF, Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary and Duterte Campaign Team 2017. The police are currently interrogating Hamja. Both the military and the MNLF did not release any statement on Hamja’s arrest not Duterte’s elections campaign team.
The MNLF, under Nur Misuari, signed a peace deal with Manila in September 1996 ending decades of bloody war. After the peace agreement was signed, Misuari became the governor of the Muslim autonomous region. But despite the peace accord, there was a widespread disillusionment with the weak autonomy they were granted.
Under the peace agreement, Manila would have to provide a mini-Marshal Plan to spur economic development in Muslim areas in the south and livelihood and housing assistance to tens of thousands of former rebels to uplift their poor living standards.
In 2001, Misuari’s loyal forces and former MNLF rebels who joined the Philippine Army following the September 1996 peace deal with Manila, attacked a key military base in Jolo town in Sulu province and civilian targets in Zamboanga City in an effort to stop the government from calling an election in the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao where Misuari was then the governor.
Misuari then escaped by boat to Malaysia, where he had been arrested and deported to the Philippines and was eventually pardoned and released by President Gloria Arroyo in exchange for MNLF support to her election bid as well as her allies in the Senate and Congress in 2004. He also ran thrice for governor in Sulu even while under detention, but lost miserably.
And in September 2013, Misuari’s forces again attacked Zamboanga City that left over 300 people dead and wounded in three weeks of street battles. Misuari is also facing graft charges in connection with a P137 million textbook deal during his stint as regional governor. The Sandiganbayan has ordered Misuari’s arrest, but he remains in hiding in Sulu and being protected by thousands of armed and loyal followers. (Mindanao Examiner)
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