MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Congress has approved the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, a measure that seeks to help end decades of fighting in the south and certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte.
A bicameral conference will need to reconcile the two chambers' versions of the bill before it can be signed into law by the President.
On Wednesday, a total of 227 lawmakers voted for the bill while 11 voted against it in the lower chamber. Two lawmakers abstained.
Meanwhile, Senate early Thursday unanimously approved the measure on third and final reading.
The BBL will install a Bangsamoro political entity in place of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). It is envisioned to grant wider self-rule to predominantly Muslim provinces and cities.
The law is one of the requirements under a peace agreement that Manila signed with the MILF in 2014 under then-president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.
Duterte had banked on the bill's passage to heal the "historical injustices" suffered by the Moros.
It failed to pass under Aquino after 44 police commandos died in a botched anti-terrorism raid in the remote town of Mamasapano in January 2015.
Troops engaged rebels forces, including the MILF, in the hunt for Malaysian bomb-maker Marwan, who was killed in the operation.
'A STEP FORWARD'
The passage of the proposed measure in Congress is a welcome development, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said in a statement.
"We have every confidence that the final version of BBL will remain true - both to the spirit and the letter - of earlier frameworks and agreements with the stakeholders of the Bangsamoro narrative," he said.
Hataman said "BBL should bring forth an institution that is capable of responding to the challenge of the times and to the aspirations of the Bangsamoro."
"The BBL is envisioned to codify not only a law, but a history of struggle and sacrifice - by countless mujahideen, their families, and fellow Moros, as well as all of the Filipino people who were unwavering in their hope and their actions for peace, social justice, inclusiveness, and progress," he added.
Hataman, however, said the proposed measure "will remain a piece of paper if we cease putting in the hard work it takes to implement the law."
"This passage is not the end. Rather it is an encouraging milestone on our journey to peace, our unfolding story of self-determination...We owe this to those who came before us. Even more so, we owe this to the coming generations of Moros and our fellow Filipinos," he added. - with reports from RG Cruz and Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News