The Bangsamoro autonomous region in southern Philippines on Friday observed its third Foundation Day.

“Three years ago, we made a choice,” said Bangsamoro Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim in his message to commemorate three years of the autonomous government led by him.

“It was a choice that will define our collective future as a region and as a people,” he added.

In 2018, a decades-long insurgency by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) led to peace negotiations with the Philippine government, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) was formed after the signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

The regional government is run by Bangsamoro Transitional Authority (BTA) under Ebrahim.

Jan. 21 is celebrated as the Foundation Day of BARMM, the day when the plebiscite was held in 2019, which officially ratified the Bangsamoro Basic Law and provided for the establishment of the BARMM.

“The decision to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law was our shared manifestation that we are ready to move forward – to move forward from the nightmares of the past, from the mistakes of yesterday and to move forward as one united people,” he said.

The regional government held week-long programs to commemorate three years of its founding.

Last year, the Philippine parliament adopted changes into the BOL and extended term of the BARMM until 2025 when the first elections are rescheduled.

The BARMM had attained three-year interim term which would expire this year but the BOL was amended to allow the Ebrahim-led government to achieve all targets including decommissioning of former MILF fighters.

Acknowledging challenges that his government faced including political dynamics, bureaucratic adjustments and the ongoing pandemic, Ebrahim, however, urged people to “celebrate our wins and recognize our lessons along the way, especially those chapters that are close to our communities.”

“After all, the heart of this transition period is to improve the lives of our people,” he stressed.

“As we enter the next three years of the transition period, let us work closely to sustain the gains of peace and moral governance; only then can we truly say that we have been successful as a region and as a people,” he added.

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.