Bangsamoro gov’t kicks off 2nd leg of excellence award in honor of MILF founder Salamat Hashim

CAMP RAJAHMUDA, Pikit, Cotabato (MindaNews / 13 July) – In commemoration of the 19th anniversary of the martyrdom of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) founder Sheik Salamat Hashim on Wednesday, the MILF and the Bangsamoro government paid tribute to his life works by kicking off the second leg of the Salamat Excellence Award for Leadership (SEAL) for local government units (LGUs) in the region.

Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim, BARMM Interim Chief Minister, speaks at Camp Rajahmuda during commemoration of the 19th death anniversary of MILF founder Salamat Hashim. MindaNews photo by GREGORIO BUENO

Hashim, vice chair of the Moro National Liberation Front who broke away in the late 1970s to form the MILF in 1984, passed away on July 13, 2003 in Camp Bushra in Butig, Lanao del Sur.

The reclusive Hashim succumbed to a lingering illness and was buried in his birth place in Pagalungan, Maguindanao.

He was succeeded by Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim, who was then the MILF vice chair for military affairs.

Speaking in Maguindanaoan, Ebrahim, now Interim Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), hailed Hashim as a “respected, inspiring and great Bangsamoro leader,” and urged other Bangsamoro leaders to follow his teachings and examples.

“We are proud to present the SEAL Award in honor of the man who planted the seeds of struggle that we are now reaping,” Ebrahim said, apparently referring to the creation of the BARMM.

“As the Government of the Day, we are guided by moral governance and we make decisions for the BARMM collectively based on consultations,” he added.

After 17 years of negotiations, the MILF signed with the Aquino government the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in 2014, whose key component is the creation of a Bangsamoro region.

Some 300 “Widows of War,” or wives left by the martyred MILF members, were recognized and given P25,000 cash and food assistance. MindaNews photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO

During the Duterte administration, Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM was signed, and after a plebiscite that ratified it, the BARMM was officially created in January 2019.

Interior and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo noted his ministry launched the SEAL Award in December 2020, with six local chief executives (LCEs) receiving the pilot recognition last January.

Each awardee received a gold plated medallion worth P250,000 and P2.5 million worth of project.

SEAL is in honor of the great Bangsamoro revolutionary leader Salamat Hashim who had exemplified the true spirit of integrity and commitment to improve the lives of the Bangsamoro people, according to a briefer from the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government.

With hundreds in attendance at Camp Rajahmuda, one of the MILF camps recognized by the government in the peace agreement, Sinarimbo, also the Bangsamoro government spokesperson, said LGUs in the BARMM should take inspiration from Hashim in their bid to improve the lives of their constituents.

“We stand privileged today to remember a man who in his own language once said, ‘I have planted the seeds of struggle and I am confident that it will blossom even if I am gone’,” he said.

“Today’s event is a tribute [again] to a man whose life works and struggle were all dedicated to the Bangsamoro people… Beyond resistance, or perhaps alongside the struggle, he demonstrated a brand of leadership that we must all emulate,” Sinarimbo added.

The SEAL Award is considered by the Bangsamoro government as “the most prestigious award that the region undertook to recognize LCEs who show excellent performance,” he said.

Abhoud Syed Lingga, executive director of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies, described Hashim as a unique person that the Bangsamoro people should not forget.

“As a student of history, the life of Salamat is very beautiful… His teachings are universal,” said Lingga, a former member of the MILF peace panel.

Also in honor of the martyrdom of Hashim and the other MILF fighters in pursuit of the Bangsamoro struggle, at least 300 Widows of War, or wives left by the martyred MILF members, were recognized and given P25,000 cash and food assistance.

Camp Rajahmuda is part of the Bangsamoro Geographic Area within Pikit, Cotabato. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)