GENERAL SANTOS CITY, April 10, 2015 – Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, is in the news today (“Aliases may affect peace process – senators”, The Philippine Star, April 10, 2015), and so he was in the same paper’s online reports yesterday, for revealing that his name is just an alias or nom de guerre although his Philippine passport bears his real name. In his two published books, he used his pen name, “Salah Jubair”. He admitted having several other aliases.
At the House of Representatives hearing of the Mamasapano debacle where he made the admission, Iqbal would not reveal his real name. Both the House and the Senate are studying how the MILF chief negotiator’ use of his alias in signing negotiation papers would affect the validity and legality of the negotiation and the agreements. Offhand, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said it would not although she said she would study it.
It will be unfortunate if the Congress and, eventually, the Supreme Court would nullify the agreements – hence, the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro and Draft Bangsamoro Basic Law – for having been signed by the MILF chief negotiator with his alias. And, wasted with that would be the 17 years of negotiations and the tremendous cost that had gone with it.
But that at the same time exposes the double standard in the highest legislative chambers of the Philippines where all members are addressed “Honorable”. They are now making much ado about “Mohagher Iqbal” as an alias of the MILF’s chief negotiator with the Philippine Government but not a word had they said about senators and a President who had won elections using their aliases as candidates and later as elected officials.
Item 1: “Joseph ‘Erap’ Ejercito Estrada” is the alias of Jose Marcelo Ejercito under which he was elected senator, vice president and the 13th President of the Philippines. He used his alias, not his legal name, in his official capacities. Has he legalized his alias in place of his name in the civil registry? There has been no report about that.
Item 2: Erap’s son, José Pimentel Ejército, Jr., has “Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada” for an alias under which he was elected as senator in 2004 and reelected in 2010. He is officially listed in the roll of senators as “Jose ‘Jinggoy’ Estrada”, another alias.
Item 3: José Acuña Bautista, an action actor like the “Estradas”, ran for senator in 1987 and lost. In 1992, he ran again under his screen name or alias, “Ramon Revilla”, and won landing in the top 12. In 1998, he was reelected for another six-year term under the same alias. Since he has a son also in politics under the alias “Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla, Jr.”, his official name in the Senate was “Ramon Revilla, Sr.”
Item 4: “Ramón Bong Revilla, Jr.” was born José Marie Mortel Bautista. Like his father, José Acuña Bautista, he is an actor; hence, the film name and alias,“Ramon Revilla, Jr.”, under which he won a Senate seat in 2004 and reelected in 2010. In 2009, he legally changed his surname, “Mortel Bautista” to “Bong Revilla”. He is now listed in the official Senate roll as Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. – no longer an alias since 2009.
Item 5: “Rogelio de la Rosa”, one of the most popular Filipino actors in the 1930s and beyond, was Regidor de la Rosa. Changing his real name to “Regidor” to “Rogelio” made his film name an alias. He won a seat in the Senate, 1957 to 1963, under his alias, which he carried as senator. He became a diplomat under the same alias. We don’t know whether his official documents, like passport, bore his first name “Regidor”, or whether he signed official papers with his first name.
What do the above “Items” show? We have – or had – senators and a president officially using their aliases. Certainly, they signed with their aliases resolutions, bills, acts, and other official papers. To the point, how many laws were signed with “Joseph Estrada”, not with “Jose M. Ejercito”?
Let this be clear. Their having been elected under their aliases cannot be questioned. The election laws allow aliases side-by-side with the real names in the ballots. At issue is the integrity of official documents and papers if signed with aliases. That is the issue being raised in the Congress in relation to “Mohagher Iqbal” as an alias.
Question: If the aliases of senators and a President used in signing official documents and other papers did not affect the integrity of those documents and papers, why would the alias “Mohagher Iqbal” used by the MILF chief negotiator invalidate or annul the Government-MILF agreements and other negotiation papers?
(Author’s Note: Mind da News, the alternate of COMMENT, is a comment on current news. The author may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)