Iqbal: Yes, I have many aliases
Video by Ryan Leagogo/INQUIRER.net
The chief peace negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Wednesday disclosed that “Mohagher Iqbal” was just one of his many aliases, a disclosure that caught some members of the government peace panel and the House of Representatives by surprise.
“I have so many names. That is natural in revolutionary organizations,” Iqbal said, responding to questions from Ang Nars Rep. Leah Paquiz, who wanted him to confirm reports that he was using a pseudonym to travel and that he was actually a Malaysian citizen.
“Just for the record, for instance, one of the national heroes, Marcelo del Pilar, listed here nine names. Even (Jose) Rizal has many names,” Iqbal said.
Speaking during the House hearing on the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash, Iqbal refused to disclose his real name, noting that his real identity was known to the Department of Foreign Affairs which issued him a passport.
Iqbal released pictures of the passport to dispute claims that he was a Malaysian citizen, but the name on the passport was blurred to protect his real identity.
“I was born in Mindanao, I will live and die in Mindanao,” he said.
Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said: “Mohagher Iqbal is a nom de guerre. It has been used since negotiations began in 1997. He has his own name by which he was born.”
Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop and Davao Rep. Karlo Nograles raised concerns about Iqbal’s use of an alias in signing important documents such as the peace agreement with the government that was signed in elaborate ceremonies in Malacañang last year.
Nograles pointed out that Article 178 of the Revised Penal Code and the Anti-Alias Law under Commonwealth Act 142 as amended by Republic Act No. 6085 barred the use of pseudonyms or aliases on public documents.
Acop noted that the Department of Justice issued a warning in 2009 against the use of aliases in signing documents.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, speaking at the hearing, said the law allowed for some exemptions in the use of aliases as long as this was not used in concealing a crime.
De Lima, however, was unsure whether signing with an alias like what Iqbal did would invalidate the peace agreement.
Not big issue
She stressed that as long as the signatory stands by what he has entered into, she did not believe using a nom de guerre should be a big issue.
Acop also confronted Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles about the government dealing with people without knowing their real names.
Deles admitted that it was only after Iqbal’s admission at the hearing that she learned that Iqbal was just an alias.
She said she knew the MILF negotiator used many aliases, including pseudonyms in his books, but he had been using the name Iqbal consistently in dealing with the government for the past 17 years.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.