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Philippines high court blocks signing of regional peace agreement
Philippines high court blocks signing of regional peace agreement

[JURIST] A judge for the Supreme Court of the Philippines [official website] Monday enjoined [ruling, PDF] government agents from signing a peace agreement with rebels from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) [group website; BBC backgrounder], which would have granted expanded boundaries to the country's southern Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) [official website]. The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) first suggested that it might agree to increased autonomy for the region in 2005, and last week the government announced [JURIST reports] that the sides had finalized the peace deal and would sign it on August 5. The court Monday agreed with motions by two southern provincial governments for the issuance of a temporary restraining order against the signing, deciding to:

ISSUE a TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER, effective immediately, and continuing until further orders from this Court, commanding and directing public respondents and their agents to CEASE and DESIST from formally signing the GRP-MILF Peace Panel Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.

The government must respond within five days, and oral arguments are scheduled for August 15. AFP has more. The Inquirer has local coverage.

In addition to the recognized size of the region, the two sides said last week that they had also reached tentative agreements [AFP report] on the distribution of mining revenues from the region, a timeline for local elections, and the implementation of new regulations. Shortly after the deal was reached, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo [official website] urged the country's lawmakers to push for long-term resolution in the region in her annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) [text; government materials].