KUALA LUMPUR, October 7 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government and the country's largest rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are expected to sign a landmark peace agreement on October 15 that would see the rebels accorded a larger share of power and wealth in a new autonomous political region by 2016.
The 12-page agreement sees the new region named Bangsamoro having its vested property rights protected, the basic rights of its minorities and indigenous groups recognized and witnessing the gradual transfer the law enforcement functions in the area from the Armed Forces of the Philippines to a reformed police.
The landmark deal, announced by president Benigno Aquino III on Sunday morning, was reached after the latest round of peace talk between the government and the MILF, brokered by Malaysia to end a four-decade-old conflict that killed hundreds of thousands.
The autonomous region would replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao set up two decades ago that Aquino has called a " failed experiment".
"Today we are approaching a new beginning because the truth is our work does not end here. It has become more complicated, there are still details to be threshed out and more decisions have to be made such as the markers to be included, the annexes of power- sharing, wealth-sharing and normalization," chief negotiator from the presidential office, Marvic Leonen told reporters at a press briefing in Kuala Lumpur, three hours after Aquino made the announcement.
"We had an agreement this early because the current government is committed, not only to sign the agreement and finish the entire comprehensive agreement but to start its implementation and have it assessed before it turns over the administration in 2016," he added.
He said the MILF has, for the first time, acceded that they will be decommissioning their forces, timeframe of which to be laid out in the annexes that form part of the agreement.
A legislation for Bangsamoro would be drafted by a 15-member Transition Commission by 2015 and tabled at the Filipino congress after the agreement is signed.
Once approved, there will be elections, the government said.
Leonen said discussions are ongoing with other armed rebel groups such as the Moro National Liberation Front on potential cooperation.
"I should say (the new agreement with MILF) is more practical and comprehensive," Leonen said.
"A signed agreement does not mean that there will be immediately peace. A signed agreement paves the way for each side to show that it can be trusted, it can comply with the promises," he added.
Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak congratulated the Philippines, saying he is honored that Malaysia has been able to facilitate the talks since 2001.
Both the government and MILF have engaged in negotiations aiming to find a common ground for the past 15 years.
The 11,000-strong MILF, which used to be part of a largest seccessionist group, had been waging rebellion in the southern Philippines since 1969 in one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies.
Continuing armed hostilities have claimed at least 120,000 lives, brought massive destruction to property and crippled the economy of the majority Roman Catholics nation.