• MILF leaders’ real names known to govt

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    MalacaÑang on Friday defended the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leaders’ use of aliases particularly in negotiating with the Philippine government.

    In a news conference, its deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said the MILF peace panel members’ real names are known to the government.

    “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 reporters.

    “The real names are known to the government, of the entire MILF negotiators, so there was no deception on their part. That’s quite clear. There’s no deception on their part because they made their real names known to the government,” she said.

    Valte’s statements came a day after MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal defended before the House of Representatives his use of various aliases, refusing to divulge his real name.

    Iqbal argued that using a nom de guerre (war name) is common among revolutionary groups, and even heroes.

    The Palace official said when the peace process started in 1997, the MILF negotiators like previous rebel group negotiators—notably from the National Democratic Front, the Moro National Liberation Front and the Cordillera People’s Liberation Arm–were allowed to use pseudonyms.

    “They were given the courtesy to continue using their aliases that they used as part of their underground rebel organizations as a matter of personal security,” Valte added.

    She then said focus of discussion should be the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) itself.

    “At least for us, the BBL should be discussed on the basis of the merits of the draft bill itself, not other attendant issues that may be related, but perhaps, are not really the core points of the BBL draft itself,” Valte added.

    The issue now threatens to cloud discussions on the BBL when the Senate resumes after the controversial January 25 clash between police commandos and MILF rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. set back the passage of the measure.

    The police operation to arrest international terrorists killed 44 commandos, 17 MILF members and five civilians.

    The BBL aims to create an expanded autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao with greater powers and resources to end four decades of conflict and poverty.

    In the wake of Mamasapano, a Pulse Asia survey showed that 44 percent of Filipinos oppose the measure.

    Echoing Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, the government peace panel chief, Miriam Coronel-Ferre, said Iqbal’s use of aliases does not nullify documents he had signed as part of the peace process.

    “That’s the very nature of a revolutionary organization, and that’s the very nature of the peace process that will normalize the situation. Things that used to be illegal will become legal, and the most important thing is laying down arms, [stopping]the use of violence. I think that is our goal here, to transform into a process where everybody can participate,” Ferrer told reporters in a peace forum on Thursday.

    The panel head said the use of aliases is a form of protection for rebels like Iqbal.

    “Think about it. What if this fails? What if the next President declares war against the MILF? What will they do? They will go back to being underground. That’s why they need other measures to protect themselves,” she explained.

    Ferrer said names can be legally changed, citing the case of former President now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada who does not use his real name Jose Marcelo Ejercito because his alias gained popularity from his days as a movie star.

    Estrada’s son and fellow actor, detained Senator Jinggoy Estrada, also does not use his real name Jose Pimentel Ejercito Jr.

    A political science professor, Ferrer reiterated that she has long known Iqbal’s aliases. Iqbal has published two books under the pen name “Salah Jubair.”

    “We do not enter into these negotiations without studying. I did my research,” Ferrer said. “He was my research subject. So we also know of the books he wrote under other names.”
    Despite criticism and controversy, she chose to focus on the “constructive experience.”

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    1 Comment

    1. apolonio reyes on

      Sen. Binigno S. Aquino, Jr. used the name ” Marcial Bonifacio ” when he returned to the Philippines after his successful heart by-pass operation. Up to this time, or more than 3 decades, even if the Marcos government ordered all embassies not to issue Ninoy passport and the cancellation of his old passport. Up to now, no investigation where and who issued Sen. Ninoy passport that resulted to his assassination.
      MILF Iqbal and his associates might have easily gotten their fake or original Philippine passport in Malaysia, the country that openly supports their revolution, bloody or peaceful.