But only 1 passport, says MILF chief negotiator
MANILA (UPDATED) - Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal on Wednesday admitted that he uses many names, but stressed that it is only "natural" for members of a revolutionary organization to have several pseudonyms.
Appearing for the first time before the House of Representatives joint committee hearing on the January 25 Mamasapano incident, Iqbal maintained that he is a Filipino "by citizenship" and a Bangsamoro "by identity."
Asked by Ang Nars Party-list Representative Leah Paquiz what his real name is, Iqbal readily admitted that he uses many other aliases but refused to divulge his actual name.
Government chief peace negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer on Tuesday also admitted before the House that "Mohagher Iqbal" is a nom de guerre or war name of the MILF official.
"I have so many names," Iqbal said. "That's natural in revolutionary organizations."
He went on to cite Filipino hero Marcelo del Pilar, who, he said, used at least 9 pseudonyms.
"I have taken a small effort to make some research last night... Just for the record, for instance, one of the national Filipino heroes, Marcelo del Pilar, I listed here 9 names: Plaridel, Dolores Manapat, Piping Dilat, Siling Labuyo, Kupang, Haitalaga, Patos, Carmelo, D.A. Murgas," he said.
Negros Occidental Representative Jeffrey Ferrer, chairman of the House committee on public order and safety, then asked Iqbal to show his passport, which supposedly contains his real name.
Iqbal, however, again refused, saying he will instead request the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to provide the House a copy of his passport.
"But my name in the passport is known to the government," he stressed. "I have traveled a lot. I think from 2003 up to January 29, 2015, I have traveled overseas maybe a hundred times. So it's known to the government and I'm not hiding my name in the passport."
"I have only one [passport]," Iqbal added.
DELES NOT AWARE MOHAGHER IQBAL A WAR NAME
Later during the hearing, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles was put on the hot seat as she said she was not aware that "Mohagher Iqbal" is a war name of the MILF chief negotiator.
But Deles said she knows that many members of the MILF do use different aliases.
She said she also knows that Iqbal writes books under a different name.
The MILF official has been using "Mohagher Iqbal" as his "official name" since negotiations with the Philippine government started 17 years ago.
USE OF ALIASES
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the use of aliases is not authorized under Republic Act 6085 and Article 178 of the Revised Penal Code.
But the Revised Penal Code states qualifiers, she said, namely the following: "for the purpose of concealing a crime, evading execution of a judgment or causing damage."
She said RA 6085 also states exceptions: "...for literary, cinema, television, radio or other entertainment purposes and in athletic events..."
"So if the defense is that the use of aliases is made in good faith and is not in any way to conceal a crime or to go around the law, etc., then that is probably a justifying circumstance," de Lima said.
The justice secretary also recognized that it is a common practice among members of revolutionary groups to use aliases.
She said she believes the use of aliases such as a war name does not invalidate documents.
"I don't think so. If the person concerned does not disown the nom de guerre, does not deny that it is in fact his identity, then I don't see...why the validity of the document becomes an issue," she said.