MANILA, July 26 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed on Thursday a Muslim autonomy law aimed at ending nearly five decades of armed conflicts in Mindanao that claimed thousands of lives, displaced millions of poor Filipinos and kept investment at bay in the southern Philippines.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque told reporters that Duterte "has just signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) into law. BOL is originally called Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
As an organic act, 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 national government.
Jesus Dureza, the Philippine Presidential Peace Adviser, said earlier this week, "(The bill) 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 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.