Photo from the Office of the Wali
COTABATO CITY—The Bangsamoro community mourns the demise of the first Wālī Sheikh Khalipha Usman Nando, who passed away at age 81 on Sunday.
Flags in front of the Office of the Chief Minister (OCM) at the Bangsamoro Government Center (BGC) in this city were lowered to half-staff on Monday morning, Feb. 5, in honor of his passing.
In a statement released on Monday, Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim said, “his demise is a great loss to the Bangsamoro government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Sheikh Nando is one of the founders of the Moro Fronts and has devoted his life to championing the Bangsamoro struggle since the 1960s.”
“As a forerunner in the armed struggle and a brother in the Islamic faith, we mourn the passing of Sheikh Nando, who is a true Mujahideen. He left a void that is impossible to fill. As we weep for the passing of the Wālī, we find comfort and refuge in the fact that Sheikh Nando is with our departed comrades now in the hands of the Almighty Allah,” Ebrahim added.
Nando was appointed as the first Wālī of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament on March 29, 2019. Consequently, he opened the first inaugural session of the BTA as the ceremonial head of the Bangsamoro Government.
Among the duties and responsibilities of the late Wālī, as per Republic Act (RA) 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), include the opening of the sessions of the Parliament, administering the oath of office, dissolving the Parliament upon the advice of the Chief Minister after a vote of no confidence against the government of the day, calling for the election of a new Parliament, and attending to public ceremonies.
The early life of Sheikh Nando
Sheikh Nando was one of the co-founders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) along with the late MILF Founding Chair Salamat Hashim and the current Bangsamoro Mufti Abu Hurayra Udasan.
At an early age, he was one of the students in Madrasah Al-Rasheedah at Pandag, Buluan, Maguindanao del Sur. In this town, he learned to read the Qur’an, Arabic language, and other subjects such as the Aqeedah (Islamic Ideology), and Fiq’h (Islamic Jurisprudence), among others from Sheikh Omar Bajunaid of Hadhramaut, Yemen.
Sheikh Nando, at the age of 17, was one of the early Moro students sent for a 2nd Batch on a diplomatic scholarship program to Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt in 1959, where he met his senior, Salamat Hashim, along with other forerunners and pillars of the Moro Fronts such as Ibrahim Abdulrahman a.k.a. “Abukhalil Yahya” and Sheikh Omar Pasigan.
In a book published by Salah Jubair (2014), entitled Bangsamoro: A Nation Under Endless Tyranny, it was noted that Sheikh Nando, along with Hashim, Yahya, and Ismael Guiamel a.k.a. “Castro”, organized the Philippine Students’ Union (PSU) in Cairo, Egypt in 1962.
They were the figures who brought the then-pressing issue of injustices committed against their people in the Bangsamoro homeland into an international forum.
As the struggle continued in the Bangsamoro homeland, Nando and his peers worked with different political linkages in Sabah, and other Moro students and leaders, which include the Moro combatants and trainers known as the “Top 300”.
Years have passed, but Sheikh Nando’s commitment to the Bangsamoro never wavered. He was a senior member of the MILF Central Committee and permanent member of the Jihad Executive Council; became the Chairman of the Committee on Education of the MILF Central Committee for 16 years and Chief Justice of the MILF Supreme Shari’ah Court for 14 years; and a member of the Ceasefire Committee of the Eastern Cotabato Region and chaired the Bangsamoro Consultative Assembly for two years.
He unconditionally served the Bangsamoro cause for the Right to Self-Determination in various capacities for more than sixty (60) years—a legacy that will live on in the hearts and minds of every Bangsamoro. (Aisah Abas/BIO with details from Suhail Mamaluba)