The Wali, Sheikh Khalifa Nando, of the Bangsamoro autonomous government passed away at a hospital in Davao on Sunday. He was 81.
Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) chief Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. extended his condolences to Nando’s family, friends and colleagues of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Wali.
The title Wali refers to an elder guardian of the top level of leadership of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), as provided for under Republic Act 11054, the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
“Wali” in Arabic means “guardian” or “custodian” or “protector.”
Nando’s remains were brought to his house in Barangay Kayaga, Buluan in Maguindanao del Sur, a few kilometers from the town proper, where he was interred in simple Islamic ceremonies.
Omar Ampatuan, the son in-law of the Wali, said Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim had asked Nando’s family for the joint-hosting of friends and relatives in a tribute gathering at a place and date to be announced later.
Nando, a graduate of the Al-Azhar University in Cairo in the early 1960s co-founded the Moro Islamic Liberation Front with Ustadza Salamat Hashim, along with several others, who like him, have become permanent members of the MILF Central Committee.
People who knew him closely described him as soft-spoken, gentle with words even in his conduct of public dialogue.
“It is with a deep sense of loss that we express our condolences and sympathy to the family of Sheik Khalifa Nando, the Wali of the Bangsamoro on his return to the mercy of Allah today. The Wali is the symbolic Head of the Bangsamoro Government and his demise is a loss not only to his family but to the entire Bangsamoro nation,” BARMM spokesman Naguib Sinarimbo said.
Sinarimbo said Sheikh Khalifa was one of the pioneers, together with some students in Cairo, Egypt of “modern day Bangsamoro resistance against oppression and injustices. He led some of the most epic efforts in strengthening the Bangsamoro resistance movement and a constant source of wisdom and advice in the transition to peace and governance of the MILF
The Wali, Sinarimbo said, had been very active “even during these past few months in carrying out his role as symbolic head of the Bangsamoro Government and in visiting Bangsamoro communities in the islands and even in northern Luzon.”
“Wali Nando was considered a major pillar of the Bangsamoro peace process. He was appointed by the BARMM interim government as its first Wali on March 29, 2019. He also opened the inaugural session of the second Bangsamoro Parliament on September 15, 2022,” Galvez said in a statement Monday..
Wali is an Arabic word that could be translated into “master,” “authority,” “custodian,” and protector.
Galvez also paid tribute to Nando’s work as a religious leader and peace-builder.
He said the late leader was instrumental in promoting the culture of peace, interreligious dialogue, and social healing and reconciliation among the Bangsamoro people.
“His legacy of peace will continue beyond his passing,” Galvez said.
“May Wali Nando find eternal peace in the hands of Allah. Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raji’un! (Surely, we belong to Allah and verily to Him do we return),” he added.