I had mixed and contrasting feelings these last few days. It was saying hello to a friend and long time partner for peace , Kagi Ibrahim Murad and bidding a final goodbye to a long time personal friend and partner in the profession, Atty Dario Rama.
KAGI MURAD — Last week, I motored to Cotabato City to visit and meet up with the newly installed Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao ( BARMM). I haven’t met him since I left government end of November last year, although we were in touch by phone from time to time. Our work together went a long way back.
I’m briefly going back to memory lane just to refresh unforgettable ( and dangerous) moments with him. These were times in the past when we were both heads of the peace negotiation panels (MILF and the GRP) and we had to revive collapsed talks even when “war” was going on; we met in MILF camps and even abroad; we witnessed together how our peace meetings were amidst bombings and attacks from both sides; we painstakingly crafted a peace road map amidst moves of “spoilers” ; we both kept the course, “damn those torpedoes”, as the saying goes.
In the end, the BARMM was born and now, Kagi Murad whose steady hand and integrity dominated the “conflict environment” made this all possible.
CHALLENGES— His task now is not easy as he takes a firm hand in nurturing this new born baby that all Bangsamoro, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, nationwide must support.
THE VISIT — There were a few points discussed during my recent visit that may somehow contribute in our group’s (Advocacy MindaNOW Foundation, Inc) modest way to help nurture the BARMM from infancy. There are many offers from the private sector that the BARMM welcomes. Let’s all come around and help.
GOODBYE DARIO — The last few days also was difficult to say goodbye to my former law professor at the Ateneo de Davao Law school who became my law partner and a close family friend. His wife, Dr. Ellen attended to the delivery of all my 4 children. She’s a very close friend of my wife Beth.
INTEGRITY — I wish to share this although some who knew him well may have their own narratives. He joined government in various capacities especially during the administration of President Arroyo. He was Chair of the graft-buster Presidential Anti Graft Commission, then as Comelec commissioner and Postmaster General.
I always marveled at his “old-fashioned” integrity, shown in so many ways. Truth to tell, President GMA who appointed him would even “hesitate” to call him on official matters. Although he was warm and personable, his reputation even made me refrain from discussing official matters, although we been partners in the law office and he even credited me for his being in government.
But here’s an interesting fact but not known to many. When he joined government for the first time, we was already an accomplished and successful law practitioner. We were law partners at the Rama, Dureza & Abarquez Law office where Solgen Jose Calida also joined us briefly.
Together with his wife Ellen, they had become prosperous with a law office building, an expensive house and other properties.
So, when he joined government his Statement of Assets & Liabilities ( SALN) was hefty with all those valuable properties listed. When he left government, his SALN has considerably reduced.
But that’s not all. I even felt strange witnessing this. He did not use the expensive vehicles of the government offices but settled for the junkyard- bound units. What’s worst, he would fetch Dr. Ellen at the airport whenever she would visit Manila. He would disembark from the official government vehicle and then bring home the wife to their Manila residence on board a taxi. When I asked him about this once, he merely said: “The sticker there says For Govt Use Only. Not for government use also!”
Even President Duterte, at early dawn on the eve of the interment, visited Dario’s wake to bid his friend goodbye.
Anyway, I lost a dear friend. And I had to say goodbye to one who is a “rare species.”