Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte  (Source: https://azertag.az)

Hanoi (VNA) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on July 26 signed a Muslim autonomy law to allow minority Muslims in the south to start moving towards self-rule by 2022, a bid to tackle extremism and defuse a half-century of separatist conflict in Mindanao.

The President’s spokesman Harry Roque told reporters that President Duterte has just signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) into law, which was originally called the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The BOL will pave the way for creating a government for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, replacing the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, enjoying more power, can have its own judicial system and parliament. However, the autonomous government cannot have its own military and police force, as these would still be under the central government.

The Philippine Government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a peace agreement in 2012 and ended the insurgency. In 2014 both sides agreed to pass a law, which is BBL, to maintain the lasting peace in the southern Philippines at the legislative level.

MILF leaders have welcomed the Bangsamoro law, even if all their demands were not met. They said they will continue to engage the government until amendments are made in the law later to get what they really wanted.

Jesus Dureza, the Philippine Presidential Peace Adviser, said earlier this week that the BOL will be a new beginning for all Bangsamoro and all citizens to work for a better and peaceful Mindanao and country.

Official statistics show that some 120,000 people have been killed since early 1970s in clashes between government troops and Muslim rebel groups. Those killed included not just combatants of both sides but also innocent civilians.-VNA