Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal looks at the document shown by BGen. Carlito Galvez, Jr, Chair, Government of the Philipipnes-Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (GPH-CCCH) during the continuation of the hearing for SAF 44.(MNS photo)

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal looks at the document shown by BGen. Carlito Galvez, Jr, Chair, Government of the Philipipnes-Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (GPH-CCCH) during the continuation of the hearing for SAF 44.(MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal on Wednesday begged off from the House of Representatives’ hearing on the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash which left 44 elite members of the PNP-Special Action Force dead.

In a letter to the chairpersons of two House committees holding the hearing, Iqbal requested that he be allowed to attend the hearing once the Moro group’s internal investigation on the Mamasapano clash has wrapped up.

“Since the MILF Special Investigation Commission is still in the process of investigation, may we request that our appearance at the hearings of the committees be made only when the internal investigation is done,” he said.

“Rest assured that we will convey to the committees immediately our availability once we have the results of the investigation,” he added.

Also, Iqbal – who also chairs the Bangsamoro Transition Commission – asked that the hearings with the MILF be made in an executive session “when the time comes.”

For Wednesday’s meeting, the MILF designated Committee on Cessation of Hostilities chairman Rashid Ladiasan and member Butch Panegel.

The letter was addressed to House public order and safety committee chairman Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer and peace, reconciliation and unity committee chairman Rep. Jim Hataman-Salliman.

Meanwhile, Iqbal reiterated the MILF is returning the firearms and retrievable personal effects of the slain SAF men.

“There has never been any doubt on our minds that these rightfully belong to the Philippine government,” he said.

Second time

It marked the second time Iqbal skipped congressional hearings on the bloody Mamasapano incident.

On Tuesday, Iqbal also requested that his appearance before the Senate committees conducting the probe be done in executive session.

It was also in his letter to the Senate that Iqbal inidicated the MILF’s willingness to return the firearms of the slain PNP-SAF personnel.

At the same time, it was also in Iqbal’s letter to the Senate that he stressed that the MILF still considers itself a revolutionary organization pending the implementation of the peace agreement it entered into with the government.

“While we may have signed a peace agreement with the government after 18 years of intermittent war and negotiations, that peace agreement has yet to be implemented. Until the peace agreement is fully implemented, we will remain to be a revolutionary organization,” said Iqbal in his letter.(MNS)