MILF’s Jaafar to head expanded Bangsamoro transition body
OZAMIZ CITY – Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) vice chair for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar will head the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that will draft a new charter for the Bangsamoro autonomy.
Although the MILF has yet to issue an announcement identifying its contingent to the 21-member BTC, a post in the MILF’s official website on Sunday mentioned Jaafar chairing it.
The same post mentioned that MILF information chief and peace implementing panel chair Mohagher Iqbal “will remain part of the commission as member.”
Iqbal, the longest serving peace negotiator for the MILF, used to chair the BTC, which had 15 members then.
Jaafar was part of a group that broke away from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1977 owing to leadership issues and differences in revolutionary perspective. Headed by then MNLF vice chair Salamat Hashim, this breakaway group formally became the MILF in 1984.
In the past, Jaafar oversaw pioneering initiatives that resulted in the government’s opening of political negotiations with the MILF in a bid to resolve the Moro conflict.
While the administration of then President Fidel Ramos was putting final touches to a peace deal with the MNLF that was eventually inked in September 1996, Jaafar led efforts by the MILF to set the ground for its own negotiations with government.
He met then Executive Secretary Ruben Torres in August 1996 to set the stage for the peace talks that formally began in January 1997.
From 1996 to 1997, Jaafar chaired the MILF peace panel. From 1997 to 2001, he was a member of the panel chaired by the late Aleem Abdulazis Mimbantas, who was the group’s vice chair then.
Jaafar is said to be closely associated with President Duterte way back when the latter was still mayor of Davao City.
Under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the BTC shall be chaired by someone nominated by the MILF.
Of its current 21 members, 11 will be nominated by the MILF while 10 will be nominated by the government. All of them will be appointed by the President.
In preparation for the BTC’s reactivation, the 11 MILF nominees underwent training on parliamentary procedures in Davao City last week.
The draft Bangsamoro autonomy charter written by the previous BTC was never enacted into law by the 16th Congress, setting back the overall timeframe of the Mindanao peace process.
Banking on his campaign pledge, expectations are high the administration of Mr. Duterte will give priority to enacting a new autonomy charter that spells out greatly enhanced political and economic government powers by the Moro people to run their own affairs. SFM/rga
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