(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
MANILA - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte vowed on Monday to fast-track new legislation for autonomy in the country's most volatile region, advancing a protracted process to end decades of rebellion and thwart rising Islamist militancy.
The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) submitted to Duterte on Monday is the culmination of a rocky 20-year peace process between the government of the predominantly Christian Philippines and the Muslim separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
It aims to turn predominantly Muslim parts of the southern island of Mindanao into an autonomous region with its own executive, legislature and fiscal powers.
"May I say to you my brothers ... I will support and hasten this instrument as it goes to the legislature," Duterte said in a ceremony for the handover of the bill, drawing loud applause.
"There will be no objections of the provisions of all that is consistent with the constitution and aspirations of the Moro people."
Passage of the bill would be a major achievement for Duterte, who was a mayor in a Mindanao city for 22 years and has made peace deals with separatists and Marxist rebels a priority for his year-old government.