MANILA, July 24 (Xinhua) -- The House of Representatives of the Philippines ratified on Tuesday the bicameral version of the bill creating a larger autonomous region for minority Muslims in Mindanao in the southern Philippines.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte can now sign the proposed Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), also known as the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), a step forward to ending nearly 1000 years of armed conflict in Mindanao.
The passage of the BOL aims to resolve the decades-old conflict in the southern Philippines by giving more powers to the local Filipino-Muslims and organizing a Bangsamoro government.
Jesus Dureza, the Philippine Presidential Peace Adviser, said:" The bill is now ready for the signature of President Duterte who will sign it anytime now...When President Duterte approves and signs it into law, it will be a new beginning for all Bangsamoro and all citizens to work for a better and peaceful Mindanao and country. It will not be easy. But let's all stay in the course," he said.
The Philippine Senate has ratified the bill on Monday. However, the House of Representatives failed to ratify the bill on the same day because of its leadership changing, derailing Duterte's initial plan to sign it into law during his third annual state of the nation address (SONA) at the joint session of Congress.
Duterte told a joint session of Congress on Monday that he will sign the approved version of the proposed law in 48 hours after the document is transmitted to his office.
"Despite all that has been said for or against the Bangsamoro Organic Law by all sectoral groups, I make this solemn commitment that this administration will never deny our Muslim brothers and sisters the basic legal tools to chart their own destiny within the constitutional framework of our country," Duterte said.
Official statistics show that some 1000,000 people have been killed since early l970s between government troops and Muslim rebel groups. Those killed included not just combatants of both sides but also innocent civilians.
The Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a major Muslim rebel group in the Philippines, 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.