Senate invites “Iqbal” to explain true Filipino identity

“Marcos Jr. questions MILF sincerity in peace talks”

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. today called on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator who introduces himself as “Mohaqher Iqbal” to appear before the Senate Committee on Local Government on Monday to shed light on his true civil name before the Republic of the Philippines.

Marcos Jr. who chairs the Senate Committee on Local Government, intends to resume hearings on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on April 13. Yet, even before he resumes the hearings, Marcos Jr. wants “Iqbal” to explain who really is the person the government is negotiating for and on behalf of the rebel side.

Staffers of the senator have tried yet failed to get the commitment of “the person known as Iqbal” to appear before the Senate committee on Monday.

“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. 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,” says Marcos Jr. after hearing that the person known as “Iqbal” reveals that the name he used in negotiating with the Philippine government is “one amongst many names” he uses.

The senator also wants to know who notarized the peace agreement and the documents this person known as Iqbal signed before the peace panel and especially with President Benigno S. Aquino III. Under Philippine law, 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.

“ 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. 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“ Marcos adds.

And in the event that the Philippine government gives funds to the Bangsamoro Transitional Council of which this “person known as Iqbal” heads as chairman, which name would he then sign those voluminous financial documents? Will he still use Iqbal, a name without civil and legal status in the Philippines?

Though Marcos Jr recognizes that rebels use nom de guerre, these nom de guerre cannot 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.”

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