Iqbal’s real name known to Palace
Malacañang on Friday said there was no deception on the part of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) when its chief negotiator, Mohagher Iqbal, continues to use an alias while negotiating peace with the government.
“There’s no deception on their part because Iqbal made his real name known to [the] government,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
“At least on the side of the executive, allow me to say that the real names of the MILF negotiators are of course known to the Philippine government, and in fact, they possess Philippine passports as issued by the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs),” Valte told a Palace briefing.
Valte said that previous governments had allowed rebels to continue using their aliases when negotiating peace with the government. She noted that this was the practice when the government and MILF began negotiations in 1997, with the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA), and even with the communist National Democratic Front (NDF).
“They were allowed to continue using their aliases that they used as part of their underground rebel organizations as a matter of personal security,” she said.
Chief government negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on Thursday said she had known for a long time that “Mohagher Iqbal” was a nom de guerre (French for war name or assumed name). She said she also knew Iqbal’s other names, including the aliases he used as an author.
According to Ferrer, Iqbal’s signing the peace agreement with an alias was not an issue because “there is no other Mr. Iqbal who signed the document.”
“In signing the contract, his identity is clear. He has his biometrics. He has his passport and voter’s ID. He registered in time for the 2013 elections,” she said.
Former Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Iqbal may be legally liable and face imprisonment for signing official documents using an alias.
Lacson, in a radio interview, said Iqbal would need judicial authority to use his chosen alias in official documents. Without this, he might be imprisoned and fined under the law regulating the use of aliases, he said.
“If he can show a court order and he went through the judicial process allowed under the law… to use the name he used to sign, ‘Iqbal,’ then there would be no problem,” he said in the radio interview.
He also warned that Iqbal’s signature on documents pertaining to the peace agreement could invalidate them.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles said Iqbal’s admission that he used an alias has put into question the sincerity and motives of the MILF.
“There was no absolute transparency and honesty on the part of the MILF peace negotiator. If we are really sincere, we should lay all our cards on the table and hide nothing,” Nograles said.
There is no legal risk that the peace process would suffer any setbacks because the chief rebel negotiator was using an alias.
This was the opinion expressed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima over lawmakers’ concern that the name of the separatist MILF principal negotiator, Iqbal, was just one of his many aliases.
De Lima said the use of a nom de guerre was common practice in revolutionary organizations.
Besides, Iqbal can no longer deny that he is, in fact, the man named Mohagher Iqbal, she said.
According to De Lima, the use of a pseudonym in this case would fall under the exceptions of Article 178 of the Revised Penal Code, which penalizes the use of a fictitious name.
“That won’t be a problem because we can say that he is deemed to be in estoppel already. He cannot anymore deny that it is his alias,” she said.
De Lima referred to a legal doctrine that “precludes a person from denying, or asserting anything to the contrary of, that which has, in contemplation of law, been established as the truth, either by the acts of judicial or legislative officers, or by his own deed, acts, or representations, either express or implied.”
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