(First published in the March 16, 2013 issue of Manila Standard Today)
The ongoing Sabah controversy has been occupying the headlines for a few weeks now. But two weeks ago, on 28 February 2013, another development, perhaps even more important for Mindanao, happened with the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels signing the annex on transitional arrangements which is the first of the 4 annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.  The Annex delineates the transition process and the mechanisms to be used for the creation of the Bangsamoro political identity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The remaining 3 Annexes still to be discussed involve annexes on wealth-sharing and power-sharing and on normalization.
Essentially, the panels agree on an eight (8) step transition process, namely:
First. Creation of the Transition Commission (TC) through a Presidential Executive Order which shall define its composition and powers and functions, among others.
The Transition commission is composed of 15 members, 7 to be selected by the GPH and 8, including the chair, to be selected by the MILF. President Aquino has now appointed the Chair and members and these appointments have been well received.
Second. The TC shall function within the parameters of the Framework Agreement and its Annexes. These powers may be supplemented by the E.O. creating it.
Third. The primary function of the TC is the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in accordance with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The bill shall be certified as urgent by the president.
Fourth.  The TC shall work on proposals to amend the Constitution.
As clarified by Marvic Leonen, then the GPH lead negotiator and now Supreme Court Associate Justice, the commitments made by the government are within the parameters of the Constitution, or within the flexibilities of the existing Constitution. He added that while part of the powers of the 15-member Transition Commission will be “to work on proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution for the purpose of accommodating and entrenching in the Constitution the agreements of the parties whenever necessary without derogating from any prior peace agreement, there is no commitment there that such a proposal is going to be acted upon by Congress.
Even the ministerial form of government, which to many may be a not-so familiar concept, does not necessarily call for a constitutional amendment since in reference to Bangsamoro, it merely relates to the provisions of autonomy which is still within the constitutional framework. As explained by Leonen, it is akin to a parliamentary government where genuine political parties will “dominate and try to capture seats that are allocated maybe to various geographical areas or probably the presenting certain sectors” and from which they select their chief minister, but stressed that they would still be under the supervision of the President.
Fifth. Once enacted by Congress, the Bangsamoro Basic Law shall undergo a process of ratification by qualified voters in the core territory of the Bangsamoro.
The Bangsamoro Basic Law, to govern the residents in the area, will be within the limitations set by the 1987 Constitution and will remain under the national government. All transitional processes will be undertaking within the Constitution and pertinent laws of the Philippines. The powers granted to it are inclusive within the concept of autonomy, nothing more.
The core territory of the Bangsamoro is as stated in  Article V, Framework Agreement consisting of: a) the present geographical area of the ARMM; b) the Municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in the province of Lanao del Norte and all other barangays in the Municipalities of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit, and Midsayap that voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite;  (c) the cities of Cotabato and Isabela (previously not included in the ARMM); and, (d) all other contiguous areas where there is a resolution of the local government unit or a petition of at least ten percent (10%) of the qualified voters in the area asking for their inclusion at least two months prior to the conduct of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the process of delimitation of the Bangsamoro.
Sixth. The Bangsamoro Transition Authority will be created with the core function of preparing for the transition to the ministerial form of government in the Bangsamoro.
Seventh. Third Party Monitoring Team shall be created composed of international bodies and domestic groups to monitor the implementation of the agreements.
Eighth. An Exit Document to evaluate and assess the implementation of all the agreements will be crafted to signal the termination of the peace negotiation. 
The Transitional Arrangement may not be as contentious as the next rounds of the negotiations since it will now deal with more substantive matters that would impact directly on the life of the Bangsamoro, namely: power sharing arrangements, wealth-sharing and normalization.  Nonetheless, the peace negotiation is proceeding as it should; this, despite some distractions as a result of the Lahud Datu incident. More than ever, the cooperation of all, not only of the Muslim inhabitants of the concerned territories but even of the domestic and international community in order to finally attain an enduring peace to the troubled South.  
Eagle Eyes is Dean Tony La Viña's column in Manila Standard Today. Follow him on Facebook:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Twitter: @tonylavs.