Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. Verily we belong to Allah, and verily to Him do we return.
Just an hour before midnight yesterday, we all lost a beacon of peace in the Bangsamoro — Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman Yusop Jikiri.
On behalf of the men and women of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), I extend my deepest condolences and sympathies to the bereaved family, comrades, and friends of the late MNLF Chairman.
Brother Jikiri is both known as a public servant and man of peace. He joined the MNLF and eventually rose to become one of its top commanders and the Chief of Staff of the Bangsamoro Armed Forces. He eventually elected and assumed the chairmanship of the MNLF Council of Leaders from MNLF previous Chair Muslimin Sema in 2017.
Years after the signing of the Final Peace Agreement (FPA) between the government and the MNLF in 1996, Brother Jikiri served the people of Sulu as their governor from 2001 to 2004, and subsequently, as district representative of the island province from 2007 to 2010. It was during his stint as a public official that he demonstrated his ability to bring stakeholders together and work for the common good.
He was also instrumental in the conclusion of the tripartite review process (TRP) signed in Jeddah, KSA in 2016 that would guarantee the implementation of all the remaining commitments made under the 1996 FPA between the government and the MNLF.
While advocating the peace process between the Philippine government and the MNLF, Brother Jikiri made sure that the peace process is inclusive. Brother Yusoph stood side-by-side with the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as he helped push for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), and the realization of commitments made under all signed peace agreements.
He was a man who truly valued his words and walked his talk. In a statement he issued in January 2019 at the height of the BOL campaign, he pledged to be “100% behind President [Rodrigo] Duterte’s aspiration to bring lasting peace and progress in Mindanao.”
He worked hard to ensure the welfare of his comrades in the MNLF. As MNLF chair, he made sure that the organization would have a strong voice and be adequately represented in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) following the ratification of the BOL.
Brother Jikiri also spearheaded the creation of the Government of the Philippines (GPH)-MNLF Coordinating Committee, a body that was created to ensure the implementation of the remaining commitments of the 1996 FPA.
While he was pursuing his cause, the MNLF Central Committee under his stewardship partnered with the Armed Force of the Philippines 2017, as they launched an anti-kidnapping and terrorism task force to end the menace of terror groups, particularly the Abu Sayyaf, from the island-province of Sulu.
In various capacities, Brother Jikiri’s efforts were focused on how to achieve genuine and long-lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao. He was a staunch supporter of the Bangsamoro peace process, who believed that genuine peace can only be achieved through peaceful dialogue.
Till the very end, Brother Jikiri’s main concern was to bring the full realization of the Bangsamoro people, harness the full economic potential of the Bangsamoro homeland, while creating the conditions where sustainable peace could take root. His ultimate goal was to create a better and brighter future for the Bangsamoro people.
There is no doubt that Brother Jikiri has been one of the major pillars of the Bangsamoro peace process. It is through his passion, determination and commitment that we are now closer to achieving our collective vision of bringing just and lasting peace in Mindanao.
Brother Jikiri, we shall forever be grateful for the great things you have done to the Bangsamoro people and our nation. May the Almighty Allah (SWT) grant you the highest level of Jannatul Firdaus.
Magsukul tuud kaymu, Brother Jikiri!