President Benigno Aquino III submitted a draft law to the Philippines Congress yesterday that aims to end four decades of rebellion by Muslims in the south by granting them more autonomy.
The proposed regional authority would have its own flag, government, and police force.
Mr Aquino asked Congress to rapidly pass the proposed legislation, which fleshes out a peace deal signed in March between his government and the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The rebels have fought since the 1970s for Muslim self-rule on the island of Mindanao in an insurrection that has killed about 150,000.
An autonomous Bangsamoro region would replace an existing one that is seen as a dismal failure.
The new plan grants much more autonomy to the region, including a 60-member parliament that would wield power over such areas as agriculture, trade, tourism and education.
Under the draft law, Islamic Sharia law would apply to Muslim residents, but the normal justice system would continue to apply to non-Muslims.
Most Filipinos are Christian, but Mindanao has scattered Muslim areas.
Development funds have also been promised for the region, which has been economically stunted due to the fighting.
The peace accord and the draft law came after 13 years of tough negotiations.
“This is the farthest distance we have reached in our peace journey with the MILF,” presidential adviser Teresita Deles said.
“Every word, line and provision shall be subjected to the sunshine of democratic debate, where all voices will be heard.”
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