LEADERS of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will reveal their real names once the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is passed, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said.
“If you pass the BBL, everything will normalize. And then you will know our names,” said Iqbal, who has refused to reveal his real name to lawmakers investigating the Mamasapano debacle in which 44 police commandos were killed by Muslim rebels, including those from the MILF.
MILF chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim and MILF vice-chairman Ghadzali Jaafar have also refused to disclose their true names.
“I don’t know why they (lawmakers) are making a big issue out of this. It is common sense that we will not reveal our real names until the BBL is passed into law because we remain a revolutionary organization and it is also for our security,” Iqbal said.
In a separate interview, a well-placed source in the intelligence community said before Iqbal became known as Iqbal, he was born Salah Jubair.
The source, who was also previously involved in the peace process, said Iqbal used his real name in the two books that he wrote — “The Long Road to Peace: Inside the GRP-MILF Peace Process” and
“Bangsamoro: A nation under endless tyranny.”
Iqbal confirmed to The Standard that Salah Jubair was his “nickname” but he still would not disclose his full name.
“Because of security reasons, my name on the passport is known only to the government. I travel a lot—maybe hundred times. But I’m not hiding my name on my passport,” Iqbal said in a previous hearing at the House of Representatives.
Born in Cotabato City, the former mujahideen who now calls himself Iqbal last renewed his Philippine passport on Jan. 20, 2012 at the regional office of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said will bring up the issue of Iqbal’s use of an alias in negotiating with the government at the resumption of the hearing on the proposed BBL on Monday.
“We need to find out the implications of this, also the reason why he used a pseudonym. This is an important revelation and raises many questions,” Marcos said.
“Who notarized the agreements he signed and what were the documents he presented identifying himself as Iqbal? Why did he feel he needed to hide (behind) an alias? Who is he?” Marcos added.
Acting Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III said “the government should not be talking to an unknown personality.”
Iqbal and government peace panel head Miriam Coronel Ferrer have both admitted that the former did not use his real name in the peace agreements with the government. Among the documents signed by Iqbal were the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed on Oct. 15,
2012 and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed on March 27, 2014.
A Palace ally in the House, Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles said Iqbal’s use of an alias when he signed the documents started the peace process on the wrong foot.
“There was no transparency and honesty on the part of the MILF peace negotiator,” Nograles said. “If they are sincere about the negotiations, we should lay out all the cards on the table, with nothing hidden.”
Nograles also dismissed the claim of the presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles that she learned that the MILF negotiator’s name was an alias only after Iqbal’s admission.
“This runs counter to the statement of peace negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer who earlier issued a statement that government has always known that Mohagher Iqbal is not his real name,” Nograles said.
“The problem with using aliases is that it allows a person to assume different personalities. That is why we have laws against illegal use of aliases especially when signing public documents because it is very difficult to determine the sincerity or true intent of the person using an illegal alias,” he added.
Senator Nancy Binay, meanwhile, said she will ask Marcos to invite the conveners of the National Peace Summit to the Senate hearing Monday.
She said Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Howard Dee and Muslim Princess Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, tapped by President Benigno Aquino III to discuss the BBL, could help the Senate panel make decisions on the draft law.
The BBL has faced rough sailing after the death of the 44 police commandos at Mamasapano, a clash the MILF said was self defense.
Also on Thursday, the Muslim Bar Association labasted the leaders of the MILF for threatening the government with retaliation should the BBL be defeated in Congress.
Firdausi Abbas, president of the group, said MILF vice chairman Mohaquer Iqbal has no right to threaten the government and should instead defend their position on the BBL.
He also questioned the MILF’s military capability to withstand a full-scale war.
The administration and the MILF have warned that the failure to pass the BBL could lead to renewed war in Mindanao. – With Francisco Tuyay