MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he has signed the proposed Bangsamoro Organic Law, paving the way for wider self-rule to the Muslim minority in the south.
Duterte, the first president from Mindanao, said he inked the measure after announcing a self-imposed deadline of signing it into law by Wednesday.
"Signed na ang BBL (the BBL has been signed), but I'm still going back because I have a ceremony with Jaafar and Murad," said Duterte, referring to Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Vice Chair for Political Affairs Ghadzali Jaafar and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Murad Ebrahim.
"And also I'd like to talk to Nur (Moro National Liberation Front founding chair Nur Misuari) so that we can have it by the end of the year. I can create also just like an autonomy for him if that's what he wants, and pending the federal system implementation he can just wait for it if he (Nur) trusts me" he said in a mix of Filipino and Visaya in a speech Thursday.
The Bangsamoro Law is one of the requirements under a 2014 peace agreement between the government and MILF), the country's largest Muslim rebel group.
Duterte had earlier certified the measure as urgent.
Senators and congressmen last week reconciled their versions of the measure in bicameral meetings.
Duterte's predecessor, former President Benigno Aquino III, forged the peace agreement with the MILF but failed to get Congress to pass a self-rule law before he stepped down in 2016.
Congress halted debates due to public outrage over the deaths of 44 police commandos in a botched anti-terrorism raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January 2015.
Some provisions in the Bangsamoro law's earlier versions also faced questions on constitutionality.