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Filipino Muslims threaten secession to avoid strife

Muslim leaders threatened Saturday to secede with their 5 million followers from the Philippines unless a plan for national reconciliation is adopted to avert the ''impending chaos and bloodbath.''

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In an unprecedented meeting at the suburban residence of Roman Catholic Jaime Cardinal Sin, the archbishop of Manila, moderate Muslim leaders gave Cardinal Sin a manifesto adopted Oct. 8 supporting his call for national reconciliation.

The Muslims have not played a major role in the wave of protests that has rocked the country since the Aug. 21 assassination of popular opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr.

The manifesto handed to Sin was signed by 12 religious leaders claiming to represent the 5 million Muslim minority in the Mindanao-Sulu region, 500 miles south of Manila.

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