Philippine peace deal signed
Hundreds of Muslims, many in a 20-vehicle caravan from Mindanao, gathered on a busy street about 200 metres (yards) from the presidential palace to lend support to the peace agreement, shouting "Allahu Akbar".
They also waved banners and held placards which read "Give peace a chance" and "We support lasting peace in Mindanao".
"There's no room for pessimism," Norhaiya Macusang of p olitical group A nak Mindanao, told the crowd, calling for support to the deal and criticising those who opposed the peace agreement.
"We are just at the starting point of a long journey to lasting peace, let's join hands together," Macusang said.
Dozens of Muslim rebel leaders, businessmen and civil society groups arrived in Manila via a chartered flight from the southern Cotabato City to witness the signing ceremony.
But there are others who say the deal will create new conflict in the country's troubled south.
Nur Misuari, founder and leader of another Muslim rebel group, the Moro National Liberation Front, which signed a peace deal with the government in 1996, said the Milf is "signing its death sentence".
"Thousands of Milf members are leaving the organisation because they don't want to surrender their guns," Mr Misuari said in a radio interview, a claim that the government and rebel peace panel members disputed.
The two panels will return soon to the negotiating table to discuss the finer details of the agreement. Results of the talks will be written as annexes to what is expected to be a comprehensive peace deal.
Both parties said there were still unresolved issues on the plebiscite to form the new entity, the creation of an internal security force, and other power- and wealth-sharing arrangements.
While there was an initial agreement on laying down of arms by the Milf's guerrilla army, the government said the rebel forces will not be automatically transformed into a local police force.
The rebels also want a more calibrated demobilisation and disarmament of its forces, citing the security situation in the south with an estimated 115,000 unregistered guns in the area, enough to arm the entire national police force.
A small breakaway Milf force, criminal gangs, feuding clans, and al-Qaeda-linked radical Islamic militants are also actively operating in the area, a potential threat to the peace deal and a reminder to potential investors of the volatile security situation in the region.