Top Philippine Court Rejects Muslim Autonomy Deal

October 14, 2008

Author: Oliver Teves

Source: The Associated Press

The Philippine Supreme Court threw out on Tuesday a proposed accord to grant minority Muslims expanded autonomy after Christian protests and renewed fighting convinced the government to abandon the deal.

The court had already blocked the planned Aug. 5 signing of the agreement after Christian politicians in the main southern region of Mindanao, scene of a decades-long Muslim rebellion, claimed it violated the constitution and could lead to the partition of the Philippines.

The move angered Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas, who went on a rampage Aug. 18, shooting or hacking to death at least 37 people in several southern towns. The violence prompted President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to suspend the autonomy talks.

A spokeswoman for the court, Gleo Guerra, said eight of the 15 justices voted Tuesday to declare the deal unconstitutional.