Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday approved a long-awaited law to allow minority Muslims in the south to start moving towards self-rule by 2022, a bid to tackle extremism and defuse a half-century of separatist conflict.
The green light is the culmination of a lengthy and rocky peace accord with separatists, during which militants linked to Islamic State have expanded their influence, most notably in their devastating occupation of Marawi City last year.
Duterte signed the measure into law after a visit to a southern city, his spokesman, Harry Roque, told reporters. Ebrahim Murad, chairman of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said he was confident the law would help bring splinter separatist groups back into the political fold and eliminate prospects of any incidents like Marawi.
The Bangsamoro Organic Law, as the measure is known, has broad public backing, making it harder for foreign extremists to form alliances and win support, he told reporters. (RTRS)