Bangsamoro Region

MILF 1st vice chair Jaafar succumbs at 75

By MASIDING NOOR YAHYA

MARAWI CITY: The number two leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Ghazali Jaafar passed away in a Davao City hospital early Wednesday.

Jaafar, 75, died past 1 a.m. after weeks of being admitted to a hospital, his son Johari Abo said.

MILF chairman and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) interim chief minister Al Haj Murad Ebrahim aanounced the passing away of Jaafar.

“We are officially announcing the passing away of our brother Ghazali Jaafar, the first vice chairman of the MILF, at the same time the recommended speaker-to-be of the parliament of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM),” Ebrahim said.

Ebrahim said Jaafar’s death is a big loss and the replacement for his position in the commission will be decided upon soon.

Jaafar suffered complications in the abdomen leading to frequent returns to the hospital for check-ups and confinement.

Last year, Jaafar had said he had an angioplasty, a procedure that improves blood flow to the heart.

Ebrahim said Jaafar earlier this week complained of abdominal pain and was confined to an intensive care unit.

He was diagnosed with a kidney problem and toxins had spread in his body early Wednesday, Ebrahim added.

Jaafar’s passing came less than 2 months after the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in January which created the new autonomous regional government that gives the Bangsamoro people wider powers.

Jaafar’s last public appearance was during the BTA oath-taking ceremony in Malacañang in February.

He missed the turnover ceremony of the ARMM to BARMM a few days after the BTA oath-taking in Malacanang.

Jaafar was the first chairman of the MILF negotiating panel when peace talks started in 1997 and was responsible for a ceasefire agreement with the government.

The MILF in 2014 signed a landmark pact with the Aquino administration to end separatist insurgency that killed some 150,000 people since the 1970s.

The deal was derailed after a 2015 anti-terror operation in Maguindanao province led to an encounter between state troops and Moro rebels, which killed 44 elite policemen.

Jaafar said MILF fighters have no liability in the deaths of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers in Mamasapano town as they were only acting in self-defense.

President Rodrigo Duterte, the first Chief Executive from Mindanao, promised in 2016 to support the passage of the Bangsamoro law, a key requirement under the MILF’s peace deal with the government.

Ebrahim said Jaafar was one of the pillars in the Bangsamoro struggle. “We consider him as a big loss to the leadership of the MILF and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” he added.

Jaafar’s remains will be brought to his family’s farm in Barangay Pigkalagan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao for funeral preparations, his son said.

Ebrahim said, “In accordance with traditional Muslim practice, there will be a gathering to express our condolence to the family and this will be done today until three days.” (RSP )

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