Cayetano says Iqbal really Datucan Abas

SENATE Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said Thursday he is 100 percent sure that Datucan Abas is the real name of Mohagher Iqbal, the chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), based on his criminal records and his school records from the Manuel L. Quezon University in Manila from which he graduated.

Cayetano said Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta was the lawyer of Iqbal and the other leaders of the MILF—Al Hadz Ibrahim Salamat, Aleeem Aziz Mimbantas, Ghadzli Jaafar and Eid Kabalu--when they were charged with multiple murder over the Davao bombings in 2003.

Twenty people died and 143 were injured in the Davao International Airport bombing March 4, 2003. Seventeen were killed and 56 were wounded in the bombing at the Davao City Sasa wharf on April 2, 2003.

Cayetano said he was baffled why government peace chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer told the Senate hearing on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) last April 13 she does not know any case filed against Iqbal, whether under his alias or his real name.

“Remember, Chairman Ferrer said she does not know of any case against Iqbal. I’m just wondering why she did not know because the MILF leadership, including Datucan Abas Mohagher Iqbal, was issued warrants of arrest in connection with the bombings at Sasa Wharf and Davao Airport. His name was there,” said Cayetano.

Cayetano surmised the government is just hiding these facts because they are negotiating peace—with people who were engaged in bombings.

“Also, they didn’t answer the hard question—is it true that they even targeted civilians like what happened in the Rizal Day bombing, the bombings in bus stations, the Sasa Wharf bombing...

maybe, that’s one thing they’re hiding. That’s why, Ferrer and (presidential adviser on peace process Teresita) Deles were saying they’re not terrorists,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano said he also dug into the school records of Iqbal and found that he carried the name Datucan Abas.

He said this name appeared in the certification issued by MLQU acting registrar Norman Guillermo that said the Moro leader obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in April 1969 and a Master of Arts major in Political Science in April 1972.

He also used the name Datucan Abas in his masteral thesis entitled, “Muslim Secession in the Philippines.”

There were other documents signed by then Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Joey Lina and then Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) chief Eduardo Ermita showing that Iqbal used the name Datucan Abas, Cayetano said.

Cayetano said there was no need to conceal the true identity of Iqbal because many were in possession of documents showing his real name even as early as 2003.

He said Iqbal’s use of a psuedonym would not be an issue if he admitted his real identity from the start.

Iqbal had told the Senate he was using an alias but refused to reveal his true name for security reasons.

During Monday’s resumption of hearings on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. pressed Iqbal to reveal his true name. But Iqbal begged the senators not to compel him to do so, as this might endanger him and his family.

Acosta on Thursday confirmed that Iqbal’s name was Datucan Abas whe he and others were charged for the bombing of Sasa Wharf and the Davao International Airport. The charges were dismissed.

“Iqbal used the name of Datucan Abas,” she said.

“His true name is Datucan Abas. We defended them all who were all in the order of battle, members and officials of the MILF,” she said in a radio interview. – With Florante S. Solmerin and Rio N. Araja

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