The Philippine government Wednesday dumped a controversial land deal with Muslim secessionist rebels amid strong opposition even from close allies of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, dpa reported.
Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said the government will renegotiate the ancestral domain agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), that would have included an additional 735 villages into the existing six-province Muslim autonomous region on strife-torn Mindanao island.
The Philippine Supreme Court earlier this month stopped the signing of the deal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, due to questions over its constitutionality.
Catholic politicians have alleged the deal violates the constitution and would have ceded sovereignty over the southern Philippines to the Muslim rebels. They urged the court to declare the deal unconstitutional.
Dureza said government lawyers will ask the Supreme Court on Friday to dismiss the petition against the deal since "it will not be signed in its present form."
"We are not going to sign that memorandum of agreement," he said. "It needs further negotiation. We will review this agreement."
MILF guerrillas have expressed disappointment over the cancellation of signing the deal and launched attacks on several provinces in the south that killed 102 people and displaced nearly 150,000.
The military and police have placed forces on red alert in Mindanao and Manila amid intelligence reports that MILF guerrillas might launch more attacks.