LANAO DEL SUR, Philippines (Updated) – As troops swoop down the heart of Marawi City to find and kill Isnilon Hapilon – the supposed "emir" of Islamic State (ISIS) in Southeast Asia – lawmakers begin a probe into the life of the homegrown terrorist that attempted to take the city to become his territory.
Rappler obtained copies of Hapilon's school transcripts from his younger years, showing a rare glimpse into the childhood of a man who would grow up to cause so much chaos around him.
The senior Abu Sayyaf leader who pledged allegiance to the ISIS turned 49 on March 10. He is 23 years younger than President Rodrigo Duterte, who declared martial law in Mindanao because of the attacks that followed a military raid that was meant to take him.
A certain Harija Hapilon, a housekeeper, took care of him. It is not clear if she's his mother or an aunt based on the transcripts alone. His father's name was never mentioned in the transcripts.
Started school at 10
He started elementary school in 1978 at the age of 10, apparently a normal age for children in conflict areas to enter school. He completed 6 years of elementary school at the Maluso Central Elementary School in Basilan with an average of 78%.
He wasn't the worst in the class, definitely. Pupils in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are traditionally the least performers in the country. It's a combination of many factors, poverty most of all, that makes it hard for them to focus in class.
Hapilon's best grades were Elemenatry Math, Music and Arts, Pilipino, P.E./Scouting, and Work Education.
He had perfect attendance too from 1st to the 5th grade, a big deal in these areas because it suggested how he or his family put premium on his education.
In those years he had good grades in Character Education: 80%, 82%, 83%, 83%, and 83%.
Perfect attendance no more
Something happened in his last year in elementary school. The boy who never missed a class and was never tardy in school registered up to 28 days of absence and 6 days of tardiness.
His excuse for both? He had to "run errands." But the transcript doesn't show what errands these were.
His grade in Character Education dipped, too. He got 79% before he graduated.
He was 17 years old when he enrolled at the Basilan National High School, where he finished first year, based on the records.
Except in Science, where he got 78%, Hapilon had good grades. He got 85% in Practical Arts, 83% in Elementary Math, 82% in Homeroom, and 80% in English, Pilipino, and Social Studies.
The records end there, however. The space where his grades would show if he continued his education at the Basilan National High School is blank.
UP denies his degree
Hapilon has been believed for a while to be a graduate of the University of the Philippines School of Engineering because of his profile at the Most Wanted Terror List of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, which put $5 million on top of his head.
This helped propped up his repuation as the learned leader of a local terrorist group. But on Wedneday, UP issued a denial, saying there was never a student or graduate by that name in its records.
Hapilon is now a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group. While the group is generally known for banditry and kidnapping, Hapilon is said to have kept a faction that maintained some ideology. It is called the Basilan faction composed of Yakans, separate from the Sulu faction of Radullon Sahiron and his Tausug men.
According to the government, Hapilon succeeded to link with ISIS, which instructed him to establish a caliphate in Mindanao. He has been the subject of a manhunt since.
On Tuesday, May 23, it came to a head. A military raid targetted Hapilon in barangay Basak Malutlut in Marawi City. But he escaped and responded by attacking the city. (READ: How a military raid triggered Marawi attacks)
The Marawi crisis is now on its 9th day. What grade in Character Education should Hapilon get for that?