Iqbal puts entire peace process in ’jeopardy’ – Marcos
MOHAGHER Iqbal, the chief peace negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has put the entire peace process with the government in “jeopardy” when he admitted using a nom de guerre, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said on Thursday.
“By using a nom de guerre, and claiming to represent the MILF, this person known as Iqbal places the entire peace process in jeopardy because he lacks the legal status to even represent and negotiate with the government,” Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on local government, said in a statement.
“What is the civil status of this person? Do we grant this person the authority to even use his nom de guerre in say, entering into a bank account with a Philippine bank and even issue checks under his name?” he asked.
The senator was reacting to Iqbal’s own revelation that his name was just one of the aliases he has been using.
And in the event that the Philippine government gives funds to the Bangsamoro Transitional Council to be headed by Iqbal under the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Marcos wondered which name the chief negotiator would use to sign the financial documents.
“Will he still use Iqbal, a name without civil and legal status in the Philippines?” the senator asked.
Though he recognizes that rebels use nom de guerre, Marcos said, this could not be used in legal and civil transactions, such as the one entered into by Iqbal with the Philippine government.
“The reason simply is the issue on responsibility. Who is really responsible? Who really binds the MILF in this peace negotiations knowing full well that the other side gave a person who claims to be this person when in fact, he is not the person known and registered under the Philippine civil registry?”
“How sure are we now that the very one who led this negotiation is a Filipino, and not a Malaysian, or holding dual citizenships” This places the entire peace process under a cloud of doubt. This even mocks our government, and we cannot allow this to happen. Katawa-tawa tayo sa buong mundo,” Marcos further said.
The senator then urged Iqbal to appear at Monday’s resumption of the Senate hearings on the BBL so the chamber would find out if the government is negotiating with a “ghost or a true person.”
Iqbal though has yet to confirm his attendance in the hearing.
“The MILF leadership claims to be led by Filipino citizens. Even this “person who is known as Iqbal” claims to be Filipino and “Bangsamoro” by identity. As Filipino citizens, they are therefore bound by the laws of the Senate, and therefore, places themselves under the jurisdiction of this august chamber,” Marcos said.
“As such, this Senate has the power to ask, nay require, in aid of legislation, those who appear before us to reveal their true identities. The Senate wants to know if we are negotiating with a ghost or a true person,” he said.
Marcos specifically wants to know who notarized the peace agreement and the documents that Iqbal had signed before the peace panel and especially with President Benigno Aquino III.
Under the Philippine law, the senator said, notarized documents should be signed by persons using their real names, and not nom de guerre.
“This is entirely the first peace agreement in the world which a government negotiated with a fictitious person. Even that negotiated by other governments, those rebel leaders used their real names when signing peace pacts. This mocks the entire process and puts in serious question the very sincerity of the rebels to enter into peace with us,” said Marcos. AC
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