Senators grieve over death of MILF vice chair Jaafar

Senators grieve over death of MILF vice chair Jaafar

MANILA — Senators grieved over the death of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) first vice chair and Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) chair Ghazali Jaafar, who died in a hospital in Davao City Wednesday morning.

Senator Richard Gordon said he was deeply saddened by Jaafar’s passing, which he said is a “deep loss” to the country.

“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,” Gordon said.

Senator Sonny Angara said Jaafar, whom he described as a “voice of reason and a voice for peace”, will surely be missed.

Angara recognized Jaafar as one of the “chief architects” of the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) since he headed the BTC, as one of the pillars of MILF.

“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,” Angara said.

Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito paid tribute to the Muslim leader as “one of the biggest pillars” in the fight for Moro independence and Mindanao peace.

“This is sad news. my deepest sympathies to Vice Chair Ghazali Jaafar whom I have talked to a lot during BOL deliberations,” Ejercito said.

“He together with Chair (AL Haj) Murad welcomed me in Camp Darapanan which I will never forget. Again my deepest sympathies on his passing,” he added.

Ejercito noted that while the death of Jaafar is sad, “I am sure that he died with a sense of fulfillment as he witnessed the signing and ratification of the organic law.”

Senator Grace Poe said the BTC chairman was a “warrior” for Muslim rights and warrior for peace.

“Amid the grueling challenges, he held on to hope and saw through the establishment of the Bangsamoro region for the Moro people’s self-rule. The people who are left behind will make sure all your initiatives for a peaceful society will not come to an end,” Poe said.

Senator Francis Pangilinan expressed hope that Jaafar’s death would inspire enhanced peace efforts in Mindanao that would mean better lives for all, especially Filipino children.

“He recognized that peace is not simply the absence of war. He acknowledged that peace is about how people lived their every day in pursuit of the best for the community and the future. He knew that peace in Mindanao means progress for the entire country,” Pangilinan said.

“And he lived knowing that peace is not only an outcome, but also a process that needed the participation of as many stakeholders as possible, including not only of the warriors on both sides or of the Bangsamoro people, but also of regular folk and indigenous and settler communities,” Pangilinan added.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he felt “grateful” for the chance he had worked alongside Jaafar, “whose brilliance and passion will stay with me forever.”

“The Senate joins the family of BTC Chairman Ghazali 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,” Zubiri said.

Zubiri said the country would remember the life and works of Jaafar that “interminably changed” the course of Mindanao’s history, and the nation at large.

Jaafar served as the Chairperson of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Negotiating Panel from 1996 to 1997.

He also became the first Vice Chairperson of the MILF Central Committee and for Political Affairs.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte appointed him as chairperson of the BTC in January 2017 and as a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in February 2019. Filane Mikee Cervantes/PNA-northboundasia.com