The Malaysian government has finally come out from under the rock it’s been hiding amidst the brouhaha over the huge SNAFU that is the Bangsamoro Basic Law “peace” deal negotiations it brokered between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a known Islamic terrorist group. Responding to increasing suspicion from various quarters in the Philippines that Moro Islamic Liberation Front leader Murad Ebrahim and spokesman Mohagher Iqbal are Malaysian nationals, Malaysia Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi reportedly “confirmed that both leaders of the MILF were not Malaysians as claimed.”
“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 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 told reporters after officiating the Multi-nations Counter-Terrorism Exercise at the Langkawi International Shooting Range, here.
Hamidi was apparently referring to a recommendation issued by the Philippines’ Davao City Representative Karlo Alexei Nograles that a Philippine Congress committee involved in an on-going review of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) be requested to also investigate Ebrahim’s and Iqbal’s citizenship. Nograles was supposedly acting on a public message posted by former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan on Facebook which features a quote from a message he received that asserts that Ebrahim and Iqbal do not carry Philippine passports when they travel.
Iqbal has since denied that he and Ebrahim are Malaysian passport holders and presented what looks like a scanned digital image of his passport to “social news network” Rappler.com. However, the image had key pieces of information blotted out including Iqbal’s “real name”, his date of birth, and passport number. Ebrahim, for his part, has so far remained silent on the issue.
Though all of this information may, at first, seem to stand up as “evidence” that Ebrahim and Iqbal are neither Malaysian nationals nor Malaysian passport holders, there remains big enough gaps in the “evidence” so far emerging to give enough reason for Filipinos to doubt the veracity of all these claims. In fact, they only raise even more questions.
For one, why are Ebrahim and Iqbal unable to provide their real names to the Philippine public? The fact that they are treated as equal partners in a “peace process” in which the Philippine and Malaysian governments are parties to, makes them public figures. This means Filipinos are entitled to be privy to information of sufficient quality to fully authenticate their identities. A scanned image of a passport and Iqbal’s word that Ebrahim is “not a Malaysian passport holder” cannot be considered acceptable proof of identity.
Second, why has the Philippine government so far remained silent on the matter of the two men’s nationality, to the extent that the Malaysian government has come out with an “official statement” first? As earlier mentioned, the only “proof” being bandied by the BBL camp that Iqbal and Ebrahim are not foreign nationals is Iqbal’s exclusive submission to Rappler of a digital image of his passport and his word on Ebrahim’s citizenship and passport use. The Philippines’ own Bureau of Immigration (BI) has not come forward to confirm that (1) Iqbal and Ebrahim do indeed have Philippine passports and (2) that they used those passports in all international travel related to the BBL “peace” process.
Does the BI’s arm need to be twisted before they cough up that information and clear the matter once and for all?
Finally, it is really not surprising that Filipinos would be quick to believe that Ebrahim and Iqbal are not Filipinos and would remain skeptical about all this purported “proof” to the contrary so far being circulated across the Net. For one thing, it is common knowledge that the Philippines remains a claimant to the Malaysian state of Sabah and has so far not made an official categorical withdrawal to this claim. The Malaysian Connection was also reinforced by the “mysterious” submission of a report on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s own investigation into the Mamasapano Massacre to the Malaysian government instead of to the Philippine government.
Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr said this report is crucial for Senate hearings investigating the incident to continue…
“But to proceed on that hearing, I really need to see the MILF report which they mysteriously sent to Malaysia instead of the Philippines. There is no point on my having a hearing, walang silbi yun na hindi natin alam kung ano ang nangyari sa MILF side,” he said.
Rather than assuage Filipinos’ doubts that they have been had by a bunch of terrorists, the Malaysian government and their own government under the leadership of President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III, every new piece of information surrounding the BBL seems to merely contribute to convincing Filipinos that there indeed exists a vast conspiracy to insult their already dwindling intelligence. When will it all end with satisfying closure?
As always, abangan ang susunod na kabanata.
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