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‘Who is he?’ Senate panel to press Iqbal on real name


Who is he?

Government peace panel chairman Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer confirmed that the author Salah Jubair is the same person as Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.

Ferrer, nonetheless, indicated that Salah Jubair was just one of Iqbal's aliases.

"Jubair is Iqbal's nom de plume (pen name)," Ferrer told GMA News Online in a text message.

Pressed if she knew Iqbal's real name, Ferrer said, "Please ask him."

"They have security considerations as well as privacy concerns for their families, so the decision to divulge such information can only come from them, as it is their lives and families that are at stake," Ferrer said.

Former MILF peace panel head Datu Michael Mastura told MindaNews in 2007 that Jubair, author of the book, “The Long Road to Peace: Inside the GRP-MILF Peace Process," was Iqbal.

Iqbal, however, has yet to respond to GMA News Online.

During the hearing of the House of Representatives on the Mamasapano clash Wednesday, Iqbal refused to divulge his real name saying even heroes use aliases.

“I have so many names and that is natural in revolutionary organizations.... 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,” he said when asked about his real name.

Ferrer, during the same hearing, did not answer the question if other members of the MILF peace panel also used aliases.

Senate hearing

At the Senate, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he would bring up the issue of Iqbal's use of an alias in negotiating with the government at the resumption of the Senate's hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law on Monday.

The senator said Iqbal's decision not to use his real name on government documents raised many questions.

“We need to find out the implications of this, also the reason why he used a pseudonym. Yes, I will bring it up (on Monday). This is an important revelation and raises many questions,” said Marcos.

“Who notarized the agreements he signed and what were the documents he presented identifying himself as Iqbal?” he further asked.

The senator also wanted to know the reason Iqbal feels the need to use an alias.

“Why did he feel he needed to hide (behind) an alias? Who is he? Did the GPH (government peace) panel know this?” he said.

Deception?

Marcos added that beyond the legal implications of the use of an alias, it calls into question the MILF’s good faith in entering into the peace agreement.

“Why deceive the Philippine government in this way? I will try to get some answers on Monday,” he said.

The senator said he has sent an invitation to Iqbal, but the latter has yet to reply.

“I've invited Chairman Iqbal but he has not confirmed his attendance (yet). His presence, I will strongly encourage,” said Marcos.

Acting Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III, on the other hand, said, “the government should not be talking to an unknown personality.”

Iqbal and 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 October 15, 2012 and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed on March 27, 2014.

The BBL is the embodiment of the peace agreements signed by the Philippine government and the MILF which aims to end the decades-old conflict in Mindanao.

It seeks to create the Bangsamoro political entity which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. It will also specify wealth- and power-sharing arrangements between the national government and the new political entity.

Even heroes have aliases

On Tuesday, Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles said that Iqbal's use of an alias in the peace agreement was not allowed under Article 178 of the Revised Penal Code and the Anti-Alias Law under Commonwealth Act 142 as amended by Republic Act 6085 which prohibits persons from using pseudonyms in any public transaction or public document.

“He must affix his real or original name and the use of names or aliases or pseudonyms is punishable,” Nograles said.

But Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said there was nothing wrong with Iqbal's use of an alias.

“If the person using the nom de guerre does not deny, that his nom de guerre is in fact the one who signed the document, then I don’t see the validity of the document becoming an issue,” she said during the hearing Wednesday.

She said Republic Act 6085 or the Anti-Alias Law allows for an exemption with regard to use of pseudonyms for literary purposes while Article 178 of the Revised Penal Code provides for penalties when pseudonyms are used to conceal a crime.

“In other words, this provision [on penalties] admits of certain defenses. So the defense is that [the pseudonym is used] in good faith, not in any way to conceal a crime or go a law, etc. That probably is a justifying circumstance,” said De Lima.  —NB, GMA News
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