Authorities arrested a former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) member for his alleged involvement in the bombings that injured three people in Palawan on Maundy Thursday, a police official said.

Suspect Hiya Hassan was subjected to inquest proceedings on Monday for grave threats and three counts of frustrated murder, Senior Supt. Abad Osit, Puerto Princesa City Police director, said in a phone interview.

Hassan was arrested at the Asturias Hotel around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, after authorities traced to him threatening text messages received by the owner of Puerto Royal Express Bus, the bus company where one of the explosions occurred, Osit said.

“Nagpapadala siya (Hassan) ng text message dun sa bus company na nasabugan, ‘yun ay binack-track natin at nasundan natin kung saan galing… actually isa siyang dating MNLF na nagbalik-loob,” the police official said.

The cellphone used in sending the messages was first found on Hassan’s 14-year-old daughter but he admitted using it, prompting authorities to release the girl, Osit said.

Hassan, according to Osit, used his daughter’s cellphone to warn the bus company’s owner against dealing with some “personalities.”

“Wala namang hinihingi… ‘yung may-ari ng Royale Bus ay ‘wag na daw makipag-magandang pakikitungo dun sa personalities, kung hindi ay may susunod pa na pagsabog,” Osit said.

The police official declined to name the “personalities,” but said these were probably Hassan’s contacts in the “underground” and operations are underway to catch them.

Hassan denied having a hand in the bombings, but Osit believes otherwise.

“Nung ininterview namin siya (Hassan), ang sabi niya sumakay lang daw siya sa issue (ng mga explosion), pero hindi kami naniniwala. Ganun ‘yung gravity ng offense, eh bakit siya sasakay lang na walang intention?” Osit said.

Aside from the explosion that left two people injured at the Puerto Royal Express Bus station, another blast occurred at the Entalula Beach in Brgy. Masagana, El Nido, on Thursday, injuring a cook.

“Mayroong similarity ‘yung IEDs (improvised explosive devices) na nakuha natin dun sa dalawang scene kaya lumalabas na iisa ang pinanggalingan,” Osit said when asked why Hassan was also charged for the other explosion. (John Roson)

– end –