An admission made by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal about having multiple identities raises many questions, including the sincerity of the Muslim rebel group to the peace process, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos said on Thursday.
Marcos, who heads of the Senate Committee on Local Government, noted that Iqbal’s revelation–beyond legal implications–calls into question the MILF’s good faith in entering into a peace agreement with the Philippine government.
“Why deceive the Philippine government this way?” Marcos said, referring to Iqbal’s use of different identities.
The MILF chief negotiator, during a congressional inquiry into the January 25 Mamasapano incident, admitted to lawmakers that he uses many aliases including Mohagher Iqbal, but he refused to give his real identity.
He even justified his action, saying it is natural for members of a revolutionary organization to have several pseudonyms.
It was also revealed during the hearing that even Secretary Teresita Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, was not aware that “Mohagher Iqbal” is just one of the aliases being used by the MILF chief negotiator.
“Who notarizes the agreement he signed and what were the documents he presented identifying himself as Iqbal? Who is he? Why did he feel he needed to hide behind an alias?” Marcos asked.
The senator said he would try to get some answers at the resumption of Senate committee hearings on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on Monday and find out if the MILF official is allowed to use aliases in the peace process.
He added that he had sent an invitation to Iqbal but, as of Thursday, the MILF chief negotiator had not replied.
Apart from Iqbal’s “identity crisis,” Marcos’ committee will also focus on the ceasefire mechanism between the Philippine government the MILF and try to find out why it failed to work during execution of Operation Plan (Oplan) Exodus.
Marcos noted that despite the existence of the ceasefire mechanism, it took both parties eleven hours to get the rebel group stop firing at members of the Special Action Force (SAF).
The failure of the MILF leadership to stop their men from firing at the SAF commandos also raised questions on the ability of the rebel group to control the organization and its men.
Marcos said the tragic outcome of the Mamasapano operation clearly shows the need to strengthen the ceasefire mechanism between the government and the MILF in order to prevent similar incidents.
He announced that he intends to conduct BBL hearings in Zamboanga and Jolo, Sullu, after the hearing on Monday.