MANILA (Xinhua) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed the hope on Monday that the new expanded Muslim autonomy law will finally end the decades-old conflict in Mindanao in southern Philippines.
In the ceremonial signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) at the presidential palace, Mr Duterte urged Filipino Muslims, the indigenous communities and Christian settlers living within the Bangsamoro areas “to actively participate in constructive discussions about the law in your homes, in your villages, and communities”.
“But more importantly, I encourage you to take part in the upcoming plebiscite so that you may express your sovereignty through the ballot,” Mr Duterte said. Mr Duterte signed the BOL, officially known as the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM), on July 26.
The BOL is the result of decades-long, on-and-off peace negotiations between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MLIF) and the Philippine government.
The law abolishes the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), established in 1989 after the government signed a peace deal with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
The BOL then creates the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), or simply the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
According to the BOL, the BARMM will have a parliamentary-democratic form of government, meaning that it is empowered to enact its own laws.
The Bangsamoro government will be headed by a chief minister and a ceremonial leader called a Wali.
There will be a parliament composed of 80 members.The plebiscite for the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region will be held within three to five months after the effectivity of the BOL or anytime between November and January next year.