MANILA – Yusop Jikiri, one of the leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has died, members of the Bangsamoro Parliament and the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Sunday.
Among the personalities who offered their condolences to Jikiri's family were Bangsamoro Government Executive Secretary Abdulraof Macacua Abdulraof Macacua, MNLF Central Committee First Vice Chairman Punduma Sani, and parliament members Zia Alonto Adiong, Sittie Shahara “Dimple” Mastura, and Marjanie Macasalong Mimbantas. They did not say the cause of Jikiri's death.
“One of the Mujahideen fighting for justice and peace in the Bangsamoro,” Sani said of Jikiri, one of the leaders of the MNLF whose founding chairman is Nur Misuari.
“I was saddened to (learn about) his demise. He is one of Bangsamoro leader worthy of imitation. His aspiration for Bangsamoro people and the peace effort is (undeniable) and shall be forever be remembered,” Mastura said in a Facebook post.
In a statement, AFP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said Jikiri was an “instrumental” figure in “the forging of a strong partnership” between the military and MNLF, which culminated in the signing of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.
“He is one of the strong pillars who advocated trust and respect as key to achieving lasting peace and development not only in the Province of Sulu but of the Bangsamoro,” Arevalo said.
Jikiri also served as Sulu governor and a representative of Sulu’s first legislative district.
“Nawa’y magsilbing halimbawa at inspirasyon sa bawat Pilipino ang kanyang mga simulain at mga nagawa sa pagsusulong ng kapayapaan at kaunlaran sa bansa,” Arevalo added.
(We hope that the things he had started and done would serve as an example and inspiration to every Filipino in advocating for peace and development in the country.)
The MNLF was formally organized in the early 70s to seek independence, but later settled for autonomy through the 1996 peace agreement. Its breakaway group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, continued with the struggle, until the Bangsamoro Organic Law was signed in 2018, and ratified a year later.