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Philippines: Peace Deal to be Renegotiated

ICC Note:

The violent backlash that followed the halting of a proposed deal with the Muslim rebels has caused the government to call for a renegotiation. The guerrillas shot and hacked 37 people to death in a brutal rampage on Monday, leading 44,000 to flee their homes.

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8/20/08 Philippines (AssociatedPress) The Philippine peace process was thrown into disarray Wednesday, with the government saying a proposed deal with Muslim rebels must be renegotiated after the guerrillas shot or hacked 37 people to death in a brutal rampage.

The announcement came as the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front already appeared to be unraveling after Monday’s rampage, which also led 44,000 people to flee their homes in southern Lanao del Norte province.

After years of tough Malaysian-brokered negotiations, the Philippine government and the rebel front forged an accord last month that calls for the expansion of an existing Muslim autonomous region in the country’s troubled south, homeland of minority Muslims and scene of decades-long Muslim separatist rebellions.

Under the accord, more than 700 villages will be added to the Muslim region, fueling protests from majority Christian politicians, some of whom asked the Supreme Court to stop its signing in Malaysia. Other opponents say the accord was unconstitutional because it would carve a separate Islamic state from the country.

“It’s going to be a deadlock,” Iqbal told The Associated Press by phone.

He hinted the impasse could set off an escalation in fighting.

In a statement on their Web site, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front warned the government against launching an all-out offensive, saying it would be “the most serious blunder that this sitting regime could commit.”

Filipinos will be caught again in the “never-ending vicious cycle of political and economic instability,” the statement said.

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