MANILA, Aug. 6 (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, 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," Duterte said.
Duterte signed the BOL, officially known as the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM), on July 26.
"Ten days ago, I signed into law (OLBARMM), which I hope will finally end the decades-old conflict that is rooted in Bangsamoro's fight for self-determination and the recognition of their unique identity," Duterte said.
The president said, "Let us work together as we continue the healing and reconciliation process. Let us give this law a chance to address the Bangsamoro people's aspiration for genuine autonomy, while preserving our bond as a single nation and affirming the sovereignty of the indivisible Republic of the Philippines."
"May this serve as the final trajectory for the attainment of genuine peace, stability, (and) good governance in Muslim Mindanao," Duterte said.
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.
BOL says tribal laws will still apply to dispute of indigenous peoples within the region.
Under the BOL the new autonomous region gets a 75-percent share of the total national taxes collected within its territory.
And the BARMM will also have an automatic allocation of the annual block grant, equivalent to 5 percent of the net national internal revenue of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs.
On defense and security, the national government will be responsible for the defense and security of the BARMM. The Philippine National Police will also organize, maintain, and supervise a police regional office to enforce the law. The BOL also allows members of the MNLF and MILF may be admitted to the police force.
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.
After the BOL is ratified in the plebiscite, the second phase of decommissioning of some MILF combatants will start.