Manila, Philippines — The United Nations has welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval of a much-awaited law that will grant more autonomy to the country’s predominantly Muslim region to end decades-long conflict in troubled parts of Mindanao that has killed and displaced thousands.
Duterte on Thursday greenlighted the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which would implement the 2014 peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The BOL is the product of a rocky 20-year peace process with Muslim separatists in a bid to end rebellion in the resource-rich Mindanao that has stunted the region’s economic growth.
In a statement issued Friday, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the enactment of the BOL was a landmark achievement “on the road to lasting peace in southern Philippines.”
“The United Nations will continue to support the Philippines in the implementation of the law, and to help build the capacity of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority as an effective conduit for peace, democratic governance and human rights,” Guterres’ spokesman said.
The approval of the BOL came following a difficult time for the Philippines after the principal Islamic city of Marawi was stormed by heavily-armed militants who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
Mindanao has been placed under martial law until the end of this year as a result of the five-month Marawi siege, which eerily brings to mind the bombed-out cities of Raqqa or Mosul in the Middle East.
Duterte has repeatedly said that the government must correct the historical injustices done to the Moros in Mindanao, whom he has stressed predate the colonization of the Philippines by Spain.