Philippines lawmakers pass autonomy bill for volatile Muslim region

The Philippines moved a step closer to ending decades of conflict on its resource-rich island of Mindanao, after lawmakers approved on Wednesday a bill that will eventually allow self-rule for the country’s Muslim minority. Lower house lawmakers voted 227 to 11, with 2 abstentions, to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law, seen as key to forging lasting peace with separatist rebels and thwarting the rise of Islamist extremism in the poorest and most dangerous region, Reuters said. The bill is the result of a 2014 peace deal between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government to end nearly 50 years of conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people and displaced 2 million. The legislation outlines the process to set up a self-administered territory in an area sometimes referred to as Bangsamoro, encompassing mountains, islands and jungles that is home to at least 4 million people, mostly Muslim.