DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 11 August 2014) — The chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel was always on the phone during the 10-day “workshop” with the government (GPH) peace panel on crafting a “mutually acceptable” draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, but he was not talking with MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim or other members of the Central Committee.
The 65-year old Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) was always on the phone because he was monitoring the health condition of seven-year old Bukhari, his eldest son with his second wife.
Bukhari was in a hospital in Cotabato City since August 4, suffering from dengue, his platelet dropping steadily. And it wasn’t just Bukhari who was in the hospital but two other household members, both adults. A fourth household member was also stricken with dengue but did not require hospitalization.
Iqbal admitted it was very difficult not to be beside his young son in his moment of need but as chair of the MILF peace panel and the BTC it was his “duty to the Bangsamoro people” to stay on in Davao City to finish the remaining days of the 10-day “workshop” on August 1 to 10. (see main story).
He said he talked to Bukhari by phone and assured him he would be alright.
A member of the MILF peace panel said Iqbal was also calling friends in Cotabato City on Saturday afternoon for blood donations for his son.
After the press conference Sunday evening, Iqbal rushed to be with his son who was moved to the intensive care unit. Bukhari’s platelet had started to go up but he had to be monitored for possible lung complications, Iqbal told MindaNews.
The usually patient and softspoken Iqbal was reported to have lost his cool twice in the last ten days.
Iqbal’s first wife died decades ago. He married his second wife a few years ago and they have three children: Bukhari, a daughter and another son.
MindaNews learned that during the years of talks in Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere, Iqbal would find time to buy “pasalubongs” (gifts) for his children. If he could not do so personally, he would request the women in his panel to buy something for them. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)