FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on Wednesday confirmed that Mohagher Iqbal, the chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), holds a valid Philippine passport.
During an interview on ANC’s “Headstart,” del Rosario said Iqbal presented his personal records when he applied for a passport. He added that the Department of Foreign Affairs would have in its records the real name of Iqbal but that he has no idea what it is.
The issue of Iqbal’s real name came up during a congressional hearing on the Mamasapano clash that killed 44 police commandos.
Del Rosario explained that Iqbal could have a completely different name from his public name on his passport, but as long as it is supported by personal information and records, then it remains valid for travel.
Iqbal’s use of an alias or pseudonym was revealed during a hearing at the House of Representative last week.
The MILF chief negotiator and Bangsamoro Transition Commission chairman said the use of aliases is common for rebels to protect themselves and their families.
But a source of The Manila Times claimed that Iqbal’s real name is Mohammad Salah Jubair Usman Abbas and that he was born in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia to a Filipino mother.
“That information was relayed to me by someone who knew the family,” the source said.
Previous reports said Iqbal used the name Lubis Abas when he joined the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) as one of its pioneers who trained in Pakistan in the late 60s. Also, it was reported that Iqbal was born in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao province.
In Pakistan, he assumed the name Iqbal, after a revered Pakistani Muslim.
Former ambassador Rigoberto Tiglao, in an article he wrote for the Times, said Iqbal wrote the book Bangsamoro: A Nation Under Endless Tyranny under the pen name Salah Jubair.
“I suspect that is his real name, since he authored it back in 1984 when he hadn’t risen through the ranks of the MILF hierarchy. Where was the book first published? In Mansoorah, Lahore, Pakistan by an ‘Islamic Research Academy’,” Tiglao said.
“Strangely, though, I can’t get any information on such an Academy, and I got a bit worried that I might have raised a red alarm in some US National Security Agency analyst’s computer why I was googling that ‘institute’,” he added.
Iqbal drew flak after he admitted that his name is only a nom de guerre or an alias which he used in applying for a passport and in signing various peace agreements with the Philippine government.
Under the law, nobody can use an alias in official documents and that such would be illegal.
Former Sandiganbayan presiding justice Edilberto Sandoval said the documents signed by Iqbal may have no effect at all because of this, but Malacanang stood pat on its belief on the contrary.
“With due respect to my former colleague in law school, the MILF has already stood by the agreements that Mr. Iqbal has signed specifically, the Framework on the Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the Annexes, and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” said Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Wednesday.
“Those documents were signed in Malaysia publicly and with respect to the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro), signed here in the Philippines and publicly attended by high government officials and the MILF Central Committee, Malaysian Prime Minister and by the diplomatic corps,” he pointed out.