Much ado about Iqbal alias on the peace agreement


MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal

MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal

Iqbal is of course Mohagher Iqbal, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel chair that has been negotiating with the government panel in coming up with a draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is now being deliberated in Congress for its eventual passage abolishing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The BBL is based on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by the Philippine Government and the MILF in March this year.

In effect, the purpose of the BBL is to establish the new Bangsamoro political entity and provide for its basic structure of government, in recognition of the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.

There is no doubt in the minds of many that, although long in coming, this is the way to go in Mindanao, if peace and stability has to prevail and progress has to ensue.

The BBL deliberation in Congress has been going on smoothly, but, alas, the Mamasapano massacre happened and somehow with the involvement of MILF rebels in the skirmishes the discussion/consultation took a back seat, at best, and at worst, even Iqbals’s representation is seriously questioned because of his admittance during the investigation at the Lower House that the name Mohagher Iqbal is only one of the many aliases he uses.

Well, there is actually nothing unusual in using aliases or in Iqbal’s case, a nom de guerre, for he still considers himself under a revolutionary organization.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Notably, the one person that is making a big fuss about Iqbal’s identity is Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr, chairman the Senate Committee on Local Government, who warned that the peace agreement could be in jeopardy because the government could be negotiating with a “ghost”!

What an idiotic remark!

“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,” said Marcos.

“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,” he said.

It looks like Marcos is putting the cart before the horse.

Marcos should know that unless and until the BBL is ratified, Iqbal continues to be a rebel following his own ideology. It will be a different matter only when the BBL becomes a truly accepted and established Bangsamoro autonomous political entity.

Then, there is no more reason for Iqbal to hide his true identity, especially if he opts to hold a position in the Bangsamoro government.

For now, Iqbal’s face will suffice. It is how we know him and it is how the Malaysian government and the rest of the world community monitoring the progress of this peace agreement recognize Iqbal.

More than the significance of a person’s name what is important is the sustainability of the peace agreement.

No wonder political analyst Randy David has this to say about the legislators who questioned the validity of documents signed by the MILF chief negotiator with an alias: “It is the way of small minds.”

Yes, small minds for understanding, but big minds for grandstanding.

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