That life came to an end early Wednesday at a hospital in Davao City, weeks after he underwent a heart bypass operation. His body was buried after the noon Muslim prayer at his farm in Pigcalagan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.
Observers had noticed that Jaafar, vice chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, seemed pale and weak during the recent plebiscites to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law on Jan. 22 and Feb. 6, which paved the way for the creation of a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Veteran broadcast journalist Melo Acuna and wife Jonah Acuna fondly remember Jaafar as being thoughtful to friends, occasionally sending them the spicy palapa, pulverized chilly fried in grated coconut meat.
In early February 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte named Jaafar as the chairman of the Expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission, which then included members and officials of the MILF, as well as other sector-representatives, to help Congress draft a Bangsamoro law.
On Feb. 22, 2019, Jaafar was one of the presidential appointees to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, as speaker of the BTA Interim Parliament.
Jaafar was Datukan Abo or Toks to his media peers and friends. His radio listeners in the late 1960’s fondly recall Toks by his broadcast signature, “Sinumagad a Lanun a Minukit a Langkuno” (Literally: Bygones and Glorious Past).
Shortly after the Jabidah Massacre on March 18, 1968, Abo went underground, trained abroad and later worked for Suara Malaysia (Voice of Malaysia), a British Broadcasting Corp. affiliate regional station, which granted a bloc airtime slot for Mindanao Muslim expatriates in Sabah, Malaysia.
Abo’s talent was further honed in 1973 when, along with fellow Mindanaoan, Nahdin Jubaira from Sulu, Mus Sema, Ustadz Abuhuraira, Mina Mohammad and Akmad Bayam, he was trained by the BBC-Voice of Malaysia as its pool of regional talents and anchor persons. They were then members of the Moro National Liberation Front, prior to the 1976 Tripoli Agreement.
Soon after the signing of the Tripoli Agreement on Dec. 23, 1976, Abo joined a group of Mindanao Muslim religious leaders and professionals organized by Ustadz Salamat Hashim in the Middle East.
That started a long stretch as a guerrilla for the broadcaster Toks Abo, who would covertly return home to the marshes of Maguindanao from time to time. He became the first spokesman and concurrent MILF Vice-Chairman for Political Affairs in 1994.
When he assumed the position of spokesman, he consulted a few practicing journalists in the print and broadcast media.
Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. said: “the men and women of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process mourn the loss of the great Moro leader Ghazali Jaafar.”
Secretary Saidamen B. Pangarungan of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos condoled with his family.
“Jaafar, the former Chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission and a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, passed away at 1 a.m. in a hospital in Davao City. We would like to convey our deepest sympathies and condolences to the bereaved family and relatives of Jaafar,” Galvez said.
Galvez said Jaafar as a Moro leader, “showed us his determination in leading the Moro people through the passage and eventual ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.”
“We will never forget that despite his health condition, Jaafar went the extra mile to join several campaign-rallies to push for the realization of the Moro people’s aspiration for a genuine and meaningful autonomy. Jaafar selflessly dedicated and devoted his life for others. Truly, he is a man of peace. May the Almighty and Merciful Allah Bless his soul,” Galvez said.
The Palace on Wednesday extended its condolences to Jaafar’s family.
“Our deep thoughts and sincere prayers to Mr. Ghazali Jaafar who died early morning today,” Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo said Jaafar was a warrior of peace for holding several positions vital in achieving peace in Mindanao.
Jaafar served as the chairman of the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel from 1996 to 1997. He also became the first vice chairman of the MILF Central Committee and MILF for Political Affairs.
“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],” Panelo said.
As he attended the oath-taking for the 80-member BTA, Jaafar was wheeled into the Palace halls. However, during the photo opportunities with the President, Jaafar, who was frail from a stroke, refused to sit in a wheelchair and remained standing to witness the historic juncture in Bangsamoro history.
The Philippine National Police also extended its condolences to Jaafar’s family.
PNP spokesperson, Col. Bernard Banac recognized Jaafar’s significant role in the peace process in Mindanao.
“From a worthy adversary to a partner in peace, Chairman Jaafar shared the PNP’s aspirations for genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao. By reaching out the magnanimous hand of friendship and peace, Chairman Jaafar sought to make the peace process work through the newly ratified Bangsamoro Organic Law,” Banac said.
Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri credited Jaafar for working for peace in Mindanao.
“The country owes much… 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 said.
“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.”
“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 added.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara and Grace Poe also paid tribute to Jaafar.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said he was thankful for meeting and working with Jaafar on the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
“I was also able to shake his hand during the appointment of the BTA members in Malacanang. 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 said.
on Wednesday announced Jaafar’s death in Davao City from cardiac arrest. With Nat Mariano, Macon Ramos-Araneta and PNA
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