MANILA - New Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Sheriff Abas is a nephew of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.
According to new Comelec chairman Andres Bautista, this was confirmed to him by no less than Abas himself.
Bautista said he met with Abas last Wednesday. Abas was not able to attend the en banc session on Tuesday as he was still in Cotabato at the time.
"Ang sabi niya sa akin, yes. They're related, pamangkin daw siya," Bautista said in an interview on radio dzMM Friday.
"He is a lawyer by profession. He graduated from Ateneo de Davao [University]. I think he's 36 or 37 years old. He's currently working with the Civil Service Commission (CSC) sa Cotabato," he added.
Iqbal, for his part, on Thursday refused to confirm or deny his relationship with the newly-appointed commissioner of the poll body, saying the matter is a non-issue.
"'Sa aking pananaw po, it's not an issue whether he is my nephew,'' Iqbal said. ''I don't want to answer that because it would lead to something. Pardon me for not answering questions regarding this."
He nonetheless stressed that there is nothing wrong if a nephew of his gets appointed to a sensitive national post.
''Makikita natin dito, sa palagay nating pamangkin ko siya, na talagang mature ang democracy dito sa Pilipinas,'' he said.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano earlier alleged that the real name of the MILF chief negotiator is Datucan Abas, which Iqbal also did not confirm or deny.