Doubts arise over crucial Philippine autonomy law after rebel clash

MANILA (Reuters) – Work to set up an autonomous Muslim region in the Philippines to end a 45-year insurgency has been suspended and may be abandoned altogether because of a clash in which more than 50 people were killed, legislators said on Wednesday.

A top official described the clash between police and rebels on Sunday, which shattered a three-year ceasefire, as a “misencounter” during a bid to arrest two militants who had taken refuge with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters.

The rebels, operating in the south of the largely Roman Catholic country, have agreed to disarm in exchange for an autonomous government.

But a Senate hearing on a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) setting up the special zone has been suspended and could languish indefinitely…