Joselito Melloria: How a simple lad became an Abu recruit
It was his marriage to a Muslim woman that prompted the conversion of Joselito Patalco Melloria, the son of a poor and simple farmer from Barangay Napo, Inabangga, Bohol to Islam and his inevitable recruitment by the Abu Sayyaf.
His wife is the daughter of an Abu Sayyaf Group leader from Salug, Zamboanga del Sur. They married in 2005, and Melloria converted to the Muslim faith.
He worked in Tanza, Cavite in 2007.
He later became an Overseas Filipino Worker in Saudi Arabia from 2013 to 2014.
Upon his return to the country in 2015, he joined an ISIS-influenced group, the Maute.
While in Cavite, Melloria was involved in the murder of another Muslim convert and thus fled to Butig, Lanao del Sur.
Intelligence reports showed that Melloria met with Mohammad Jaafar Maquid, alias Tokboy, leader of the Ansa Al-Khilafa Philippines (AKP), also an ISIS affiliated rebel group in Sultan Kudarat.
Maquid then directed him to meet with Muammar Askali alias Abu Rami, who was with him on April 10, when the ASG entered Inabanga, Bohol.
Since his meeting with Abu Rami, he was monitored to be in the company of Rami’s ASG unit.
No one from his hometown knew of his activities until his return last April 10 in the company of an armed group who later turned out to be ASG members, reportedly on a mission to conduct kidnapping and terror activities in Bohol and nearby provinces.
According to the military, Melloria took the name Abu Alih and assumed the leadership of the remaining ASG members who escaped the government siege in Barangay Napo on April 11, which left at least four of his comrades, including their leader Abu Rami, dead.
The military later discovered that they were hiding in a cave in Bacani, a place familiar to Melloria.
It came as a shock to some people who knew Melloria that he was reported to be a member of the Abu Sayyaf.
His former landlady, Pacing dela Torre, 64, said he and his family used to rent a room in her apartment when he studied at the Nawahan National High School in Clarin, a town adjoining Inabanga.
She remembered him to be a “kind and respectful person” and was shocked to hear that he was a member of the dreaded bandit group.
Dela Torre came with her children to the Clarin Funeral Homes in the town proper to see the body of Melloria. He was killed by government troopers last Saturday afternoon in Barangay Bacawi, which adjoins Barangay Nawahan.
The former landlady could not comprehend why Melloria chose to join the ASG and sow so much terror and fear in his own hometown.
“But-an man na siya nga bata. Dali ra namo masugo,” Dela Torre said.
(He was a good boy. He would never refuse when we asked him to do some errands.)
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