By Argyll Geducos and Mario Casayuran
Malacañang has condoled with the family and friends of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar who died early Wednesday.
“Our deep thoughts and sincere prayers to Mr. Ghazali Jaafar who died early morning today, March 13, 2019,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said, describing the late leader as a “warrior of peace.”
“The Palace takes this opportunity to send our heartfelt condolences to the family members and friends of Mr. Jaafar. He has fought many battles for peace and may Allah grant him a place in Jannah (Paradise),” he added.
Jaafar served as the chairperson of the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel from 1996 to 1997. He likewise became the First Vice chairperson of the MILF Central Committee and MILF for Political Affairs.
President Duterte appointed Jaafar as chairperson of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission in January, 2017 and as a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in February, 2019.
Jaafar underwent angioplasty procedure last year. He suffered complications in the abdomen after, leading to frequent returns to the hospital for check-ups and confinement.
MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim said that Jaafar used to complain of abdominal pain and was confined in the intensive care unit.
Murad said Jaafar was diagnosed with a kidney problem and toxins had spread to his body early Wednesday.
Jaafar’s passing came less than two months after Mindanaoans voted to ratify the creation of the BARMM which is the product of a decades-long negotiation between the government and the MILF.
Huge loss to PH
Senators branded Jaafar’s death as a huge loss not only to the Bangsamoro but to the nation.
Former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said he is saddened by the passing of Jaafar “but at the same time thankful that I have been able to meet and work with him concerning the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).”
“I was also able to shake his hand during the appointment of the Bangsamoro Transition Bangsamoro Transition Authority members in Malacañang. I am happy that Mr. Jaafar was able to see the fruition of their peace talks with the government. My condolences to the Jaafar family and the entire MILF organization,” he added.
Senator Richard J. Gordon said Jaafar is a “hard act to follow.”
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my Muslim brother Ghadzali Jaafar, who is the speaker of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and first vice chairman of the MILF. He would be a hard act to follow,” said Gordon.
“Jaafar’s passing is a deep loss to our country. His sincerity, wisdom, and experience are attributes needed to drive his and our dreams of a successful Mindanao. His leadership will be sorely missed. We all have to work as one now and continue what he has started,” he added.
For his part, re-electionist Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said her is sure that Jaafar died with a sense of fulfillment as he witnessed the signing and ratification of the Organic Law.
Another re-electionist, Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara, recognized Jaafar as one of the chief architects of the new BARMM and the BOL.
“He was highly determined to get the best deal for his constituents but was also willing to be flexible on some points in order to come up with a new organic law for Muslim Mindanao. He was a voice of reason and a voice for peace and will surely be missed,” Angara said.
Re-electionist Senator Nancy Binay also expressed her condolences to the family of Jaafar on his passing.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said the Senate joins the family of Jaafar in hailing his life of courage, honor, and nobility.
He dedicated his strength, intelligence, and soul to freeing the Bangsamoro people from the strife that history has bestowed on Mindanao, he said.
Zubiri has worked closely with Jaafar during the crafting of the BOL.
“The country owes much of the peace embracing Mindanao and the Muslim communities nationwide to Chairman Jaafar. He consistently extended his hand of conciliation and brotherhood to fellow Muslims – more so, to fellow Filipinos during the course of the Bangsamoro struggle. His efforts contributed greatly to achieving unity among factions of fellow Muslim brothers. He has earned the admiration and respect of allies and adversaries because he has always stood for his dream of bringing forth a Bangsamoro where godliness, liberty, progress, and peace will reign forever,”’ he added.
“We shall always remember him for giving us the privilege of working with him to craft the historical Bangsamoro Organic Law as one of the important pillars of a truly autonomous Bangsamoro,” he stressed.