The Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebel group signed a peace deal today that foresees forming a new autonomous region in the south, ending more than 40 years of conflict.
President Benigno Aquino and rebel chief Ebrahim Murad held one-on-one talks before the signing of the landmark framework agreement.
It was Mr Murad and President Aquino's second meeting since their secret Tokyo talks in August 2011, a major turning point in peace negotiations that have lasted nearly 15 years.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose government has facilitated the start-stop negotiations since March 2001, was present at the signing along with foreign dignitaries and international aid agencies that helped in the peace process.
"Much work remains to be done in order to fully reap the fruits of this framework agreement," President Aquino said before the signing ceremony at the Malacanang palace.
"We have commitments to fulfil, people to lead and dreams to achieve."
He added: "We are committed to enabling our partners to transform themselves into a genuine political party that can help to facilitate the region's transition towards a truly peaceful and progressive place."
President Aquino is expected to issue an executive order shortly to form a 15-member transition commission that will formulate new legislation by 2015 to create a new Muslim local government for the Bangsamoro, the name given by the Moro tribes for their homeland.
A plebiscite later in Muslim-dominated areas in the south will determine the shape and size of the new Bangsamoro area on the island of Mindanao.
The new autonomous government will have greater political powers and more control over resources, including minerals, oil and natural gas than the existing entity. Currency postal services, defence and foreign policy will remain under the central government in Manila.
The agreement did not give details of the power-sharing arrangement between the government and the Bangsamoro but it guarantees the rights of both Muslims and non-Muslims.