Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mohagher Iqbal: What’s In a Name?

The Senate Committee on Local Government just resumed its public hearings on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

I was expecting to hear a discussion on some of the provisions of the proposed law especially on constitutional questions. But probably because of press or media interests, I noticed that some Senators were more concerned with Mohagher Iqbal’s use of aliases. They questioned his use of an alias in negotiating and signing the agreement on behalf of the MILF with the Philippine Government panel instead of his real name.

Senator Bongbong Marcos thinks it raises questions of good faith on the part of MILF. He wanted to know if the Philippine Government has been negotiating with a ghost or a true person.  Senator Vicente Sotto even walked out saying, “we should not be talking to an unknown personality.”

What? Igbal is the recognized representative and Chief Negotiator of the rebel group, MILF. He has been involved in peace talks between the MILF and the Philippine government since 1997. Brokered by the Malaysian government and supported by an International Contact Group (ICG) composed of states and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Japan, The Asian Foundation, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Muhammadiyah, and Conciliation Resources, a peace agreement was finally signed on January 24, 2014 by Philippine government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer and MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Igbal.

In this digital age, Iqbal’s fingerprints, digital images, signatures, and obviously, his DNA could be found all over the place including the Senate chamber and premises.  He has a distinct personality and he's definitely not a ghost but a real person recognized by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, MILF chair Hadji Murad Ibrahim and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak,

There are several reasons why some people use aliases, pseudonyms, pen names or nom de guerre.

Iqbal said he uses an alias to protect himself, his family, and the Bangsamoro struggle – in short, for security reasons.

The ABU AMMAR name is very well known in the Arab World, in Egypt, and in Jerusalem. He is the same man who negotiated and signed the Oslo Accords for the Palestinian National Authority with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Israeli Foreign Minister Simon Perez. Together with Rabin and Perez, he received a Nobel Peace Prize. His other name was YASER ARAFAT.

WILLY BRANDT was the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1969 to 1974. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1971 for his efforts to achieve reconciliation between West Germany and the countries of the Soviet bloc. His real name was HERBERT ERNST KARL FRAHM.

JOSEPH STALIN ruled the Soviet Union for more than two decades, instituting a reign of terror while modernizing Russia and helping to defeat Nazism. His real name was LOSEB VISSARIONOVICH DZHUGASHVILI.

Remember CHE GUEVARA, hero of the Bolivian, Cuban, and other Latin American revolutionaries? Well, his real name was ERNEST RAFAEL GUEVARA DE LA SERNA.

How about HO CHI MINH of Vietnam and KIM IL SUNG of North Korea? Their real names are NGUYEN SINH CUNG and KIM SONG JU, respectively.

Let us check our own history. He proclaimed the First Philippine Republic and was its first President. He was known as ROSALIA MAGDALO but his real name was EMILIO AGUINALDO. The pseudonyms of our national hero were DIMASALANG and LAONG-LAAN but his real name was JOSE RIZAL. Those of APOLINARIO MABINI, EMILIO JACINTO, MARCELO DEL PILAR, and ANDRES BONIFACIO were: PARALITICO, PINKIAN, PLARIDEL, and MAY PAG-ASA respectively.

Others use aliases to hide actual ownership of bank accounts. Remember JOSE VELARDE who is supposed to be the alias either of JAIME DICHAVES or JOSEPH ESTRADA; and JOSE PIDAL – the alias of IGNATIO ARROYO – brother of the former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo?

Don’t forget Senators JINGGOY ESTRADA whose real name is JOSE PIMENTEL EJERCITO, JR. and RAMON REVILLA, JR whose real name is JOSE MARIE MORTEL BAUTISTA.

JORGE MARIO BERGOGLIO who recently visited the Philippines now heads the Roman Catholic Church and is more known to the world as POPE FRANCIS. The famous living saint MOTHER THERESA was really named AGNES GONXHAXHIU.

In the Philippine movies, SUSAN ROCES is really JESUSA PURIFICACION SONORA while FPJ or FERNANDO POE, JR. was really RONALD ALLAN KELLEY POE. In Hollywood, the real name of CLINT EASTWOOD is MARTY MCFLY.

In the ‘70s, my wife (Tina Manglapus), daughter Tanya and I escaped from the Marcos dictatorship. Disguised as Muslim barter traders we traveled to Tawau, Sabah, Malaysia via Zamboanga, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, and Sitangkay.  I used the name ABDUL JULKANAIN in entering Sabah with no passport and no visa. Assisted by the Home Minister’s Office, the Malaysians knew me as Benjamin Maynigo but with no traveling documents. Since a passport and visa were required to travel to Kuala Lumpur, I was again disguised with a different name as a Special Assistant to the Prime Minister. To them I was always Benjamin Maynigo.

Eventually residing in the United States as a political refugee, I have traveled to several foreign countries without using a Philippine or US passport until 1986 when the People Power Revolution deposed Marcos. I am now a dual citizen using both passports.

While in the United States I founded the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce (APACC) which President Ronald Reagan described as the fastest growing ethnic business organization in the country. We published a magazine called, “The Asian Entrepreneur”. I was named the President and Publisher carrying the pseudonym “GO NI MAI” – Maynigo in reverse.

There are several laws that regulate the use of aliases, nom de guerre, pen names or pseudonyms. As long as one follows the regulations and not for some criminal act, misrepresentation of facts or other illegal uses, having a pseudonym is generally fine.
Mohagher Iqbal is admittedly a nom de guerre. But he is a real person designated officially by MILF, a rebel group. He is recognized and identifiable by both the Philippine and the Malaysian governments.

My barber says it is fine with him. Take It From My Barber!

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