Sat. May 25th, 2019

MILF vice chair’s demise mourned globally


President Duterte and MILF Vice Chair Jaafar. (Photo Courtesy: GMA News)

COTABATO CITY – News about the demise of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) First Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar early Wednesday morning promptly drew words of sympathy from local and international entities, especially those concerned with the decades-long Mindanao peace process.

All national news networks in the country also heralded swiftly reports about Jaafar’s death in a hospital in Davao City, citing confirmations from his peers in the infant Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and the MILF led by Chairman cum Interim Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim Al-Haj.

Philippine-based officials of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the European Union, the Malaysian embassy, and agencies of the Unites Nations (UN) deemed Jaafar’s demise as an “untimely loss” in the early stage of the BAR governance.

BAR governance took off officially after President Rodrigo Duterte constituted the 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) and named Chairman as its interim chief minister on Feb. 22 in Malacañang.

Jaafar, whom Ebrahim named later as BTA parliament speaker, attended the Palace oath-taking event and insisted on standing despite his coming in wheelchair.

The 75-year old Jaafar died past 1 a.m. Wednesday after weeks of confinement in Metro Davao Medical and Research Center in Davao City due to heart failure.

Last year, the second top leader of the country’s erstwhile largest rebel front reportedly admitted having an angioplasty, a procedure that improves blood flow to the heart.

He suffered abdominal complications after, leading to frequent returns to hospital for check-ups and confinement, according to Chairman Ebrahim.

Murad said his comrade was diagnosed with a kidney problem and toxins had spread in his body early Wednesday.

Jaafar’s passing came less than two months after a January vote ratified the creation of BARMM that gives the Muslim minority wider powers.

The BARMM is the product of a decades-long negotiation between the government and MILF concluded in the forging of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB). CAB served as a major basis of the 17th Congress in enacting R.A. 11054, the BARMM charter.

President Duterte signed the law in July last year, describing its enactment as a partial fulfillment of his vow to help correct “injustices” among the minority Muslim community.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. paid tribute to Jaafar. “Despite deteriorating health condition, Vice Chair Jaafar still proceeded and joined the massive campaign for the passage and ratification of BOL.”

Ebrahim said Jaafar’s demise was “a big loss to the leadership of the MILF and BARMM.”

Lawyer Saidamen Pangarungan, secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), aired his agency’s “deepest sympathy” over the demise of Jaafar.

“He (Jaafar) was major part of the wind behind the wing of MILF successes in the Mindanao peace talks,” Pangarungan was quoted as saying Wednesday. (Ali G. Macabalang)

Ali Macabalang

Ali Macabalang, Senior Correspondent of The Manila Bulletin, Tempo newspapers and various private and government media entities in different positions, one of very few Filipino Muslim scribes that newspapers readers may have noticed their bylines in various stories on different issues.