Seares: Which are you today, Mohagher Iqbal? | SunStar

Seares: Which are you today, Mohagher Iqbal?

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Seares: Which are you today, Mohagher Iqbal?

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

"Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself."
-- J.K. Rowling

THE chief negotiator of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) wasn't born as Mohagher Iqbal. More than one year after the signing of peace accord with the rebels and almost three months after the Mamasapano tragedy, his real name still has to be disclosed.

It took a House hearing to tell the nation that Iqbal is only a "nom de guerre." His passport bears his true name but what he uses in public documents and he identifies himself to the nation is an alias, one of many, he said, he bears.

Revised Penal Code and Anti-Alias Law prohibit persons from using false names in any public transaction or public document.

Iqbal's use of a false name though might be the least source of irritant in forging the Bangsamoro Basic Law ("not an issue," DOJ said). The draft law faces a major overhaul in Congress for constitutional and practical reasons. Yet Iqbal's disguise increases public distrust towards MILF.

MILF's mask

Who is the state dealing with? A group that doesn't represent most of the rebel factions, talks of peace even as it wages war, gets major cues from a foreign country -- and its chief negotiator, the public face of MILF, wears masks.

He could be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, ex-DILG head Rafael Alunan III said. Not quite an apt simile: we see only one Iqbal and not the other persons in him.

Iqbal, Mrs. Ferrer said, even used a pen name ("Salah Jubair") for his books. In fiction's realm, he can hide his identity. But not when he negotiates with the government for a huge chunk of territory, vast powers, and an initial cash-out of P75 billion taxpayers money.


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