MANILA – Dozens of Muslim women from the Bangsamoro region were rallying on Wednesday to urge legislators to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which would establish a new autonomous political entity in the southern Philippines.
The demonstrators gathered at the EDSA Shrine in Mandaluyong, east of the capital city, Manila, an epa-efe journalist reported.
They carried independentist Bangsa regional flags and signs urging lawmakers to approve a “non-diluted” version of the BBL draft law.
Speaker of the House, Pantaleon Alvarez, formally received the draft bill on Wednesday, the state-run Philippines News Agency reported.
The BBL draft was first submitted to Congress by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2014, and has been the subject of long-standing congressional committee debates ever since.
If approved, the law would grant increased autonomy to a region of the southern Philippines which has been ravaged by an ongoing Muslim separatist rebellion, and turn the country from a republic to a federation.
The region, which is mostly Muslim, is also home to large Christian minorities and various indigenous groups, who have resisted the passage of the draft law.
The BBL would replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which was implemented in 1989 in response to hostilities between government forces and the separatist Moro National Liberation Front.
The Philippine military in the southern province of Maguindanao, part of the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, said that 12 Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, affiliated with the Islamic State terror organization, had been killed in operations on Sunday and Monday.