Malaysia: MILF's Murad, Iqbal not Malaysian citizens
MANILA, Philippines – It has come to this – even Malaysia has been forced to issue a statement on the citizenship issue hounding top leaders of rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
In a report by Malaysian state media Bernama, Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi confirmed that MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim and chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal are not Malaysian citizens. Malaysia serves as the third-party facilitator to the peace talks between the government and the MILF.
Ahmad Zahid was responding to a statement made by Davao City 1st District Representative Karlos Alexei Nograles calling on Congress to look into allegations that the MILF leaders are not Filipino citizens.
"I have checked with the Director-General of the Registration Department, including checking the personal information, date of birth and other details, and found that Haji Murad Ibrahim (sic) and (Mohagher) Iqbal are not Malaysians.
"I hope the member of parliament understands and this is the official stand of the Government of Malaysia on this issue,"he added.
The Bernama report said the director general of Malaysia's National Registration Department also confirmed that the two rebel leaders are not Malaysians.
Iqbal has admitted that the name "Mohagher Iqbal" is not his real name. It is his legal name, however, that is in his passport, he earlier said.
The chief MILF peace negotiator provided Rappler with a scanned copy of his passport on Monday, March 16, with some personal details stricken out with a pen.
Questions over the MILF leaders' citizenship stemmed from a Facebook post made by former Interior secretary Rafael Alunan III that cited an anonymous message sent to his Facebook inbox.
Following the post, Nograles issued a statement warning that Congress could be "committing treason" for allegedly dealing with foreigners.
The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law – a product of the peace deal between the government and the MILF – is currently in Congress for deliberation. – Angela Casauay/Rappler.com