FAREWELL BAPA GHAZALI! Bangsamoro leader Jaafar passes away at 75 due to cancer

JAAFAR, 75. Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) first Vice Chairman and Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) chair Ghazali Jaafar chats with President Rodrigo Duterte and former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez during a gathering of Muslim leaders at SMX Convention Center in Davao City in this file photo. Jaafar passed away at the age of 75 early morning of Wednesday. Lean Daval Jr

By Adam B. Morrell and Leebai S. Ambolodto

He was exhausted, but it was mission accomplished.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) first vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar, a member of the newly-created Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), passed away on Wednesday afternoon after a battle with colon cancer. He was 75. 

His wife, Haja Lucaya said in Maguindanaon: “Nalugat sekanin. Tinagak kami nin den, ka napasad nin den i galbek nin (He was exhausted, he left us because he has accomplished his mission).” 

Maguindanao first district Representative Bai Sandra Sema posted the same words on her social media account on Wednesday. Jaafar’s widow let out her sentiments to Rep. Sema during the burial of the MILF leader on Wednesday afternoon. Jafaar’s body was laid to rest near his home at the Km 14, Barangay Pigkalagan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

Sema shared Lucaya’s thoughts to Edge Davao in a phone interview.

Jaafar succumbed to colon cancer complications past 1pm on Wednesday, March 13 at the Metro Davao Medical Research Center (MDMRC) in Davao City, according to a statement released by Mobaral “Moby” Pandi, regional information officer of the Ministry for Basic, Higher and Technical Education of the newly-installed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

At the time of his death, Jaafar has been nominated Speaker of the BARMM.

“We thank Ghazali Jaafar for his very important role in arriving at a very important legislation of peace the RA 11054,” said Sema. “He has done much for the Bangsamoro people.”

Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) commissioner Datu Mussolini Sinsuat Lidasan also expressed his grief, saying: “This is a great loss for the people of the Bangsamoro.”

Jaafar was Vice Chair for Political Affairs until the title was changed to “1st Vice Chair,” was the first chair of the MILF peace panel. He signed the general cessation of hostilities between government and the MILF in Cagayan de Oro City on July 18, 1997.

He chaired the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that drafted the Bangsamoro Basic Law in 2017 and oversaw the progress of the draft law until the Bicameral Conference Committee of Congress passed its substitute bill – RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM.

Shortly after the law was passed in July 2018, Jafaar went through a heart surgery.

Jaafar’s last public appearance was at the oathtaking rites of the BTA in Malacanang on February 22, 2019. He arrived on a wheelchair shortly before President Rodrigo Duterte entered the Rizal Hall, insisted on standing up when he took his oath along with 71 other BTA members, but fell on his back while conversing with President Duterte.

Jaafar was not present during the turnover rites from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to the BARMM on February 26 at the Shariff Kabungsuan Cultural Complex. It was here where interim Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim (MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim) named him as Speaker. But while he is recuperating, he said, a Deputy Speaker – former Lanao del Sur Rep. and Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Pangalian Balindong — would take his place.

Jafaar’s nephew Aber Cumbao, in a separate interview, said the council will conduct a meeting a few days after his death to determine his replacement. With a report from MindaNews