3 cops declared ‘unwelcome’ by Kalinga Tribe

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TINGLAYAN, Kalinga – The Butbut Tribe occupying the nine Barangays of the Municipality of Tinglayan and eight sitios in other places in the province declared the head of the Police Regional Office Cordillera (PROCor) and three other police officials ‘persona non grata’ within the Butbut Tribe areas.

Through resolution numbered 1 series of 2021, the tribesmen declared PROCor Chief Police Brig. General R’win Pagkalinawan, Kalinga Police Provincial Office (KPPO) Director Police Col. Davy Vicente Limmong, KPPO PLTCol Armando Lorette Jr. and 2nd Kalinga Police Mobile Force Company (PMFC) Commanding Officer PMaj. Daniel Fakat as “persona non grata”. This came after the alleged burning by the police on February 23, 2021 of a civilian outpost of the being used by Butbut Tribe to guard its community against attacks from another tribe, the Betwagan Tribe in nearby Sadanga, Mountain Province which had been its rival for decades over a disputed area within their boundaries. The tribesmen denounced the alleged burning as a dastardly act which destroyed the outpost, logs and even kitchen utensils of the Butbut Tribe.

In the resolution, the tribesmen stated that their “bodong” or peacepact with the Betwagan Tribe of Betwagan, Sadanga, Mountain Province was severed after the latter fired their guns at unsuspecting farmers of Butbut Tribe form Barangay Bugnay, Tinglayan on February 3, 2020. The said attack, according to the Butbut Tribe, was perpetrated due to their misunderstanding regarding their decades-old boundary dispute.

Because of their animosity with Betwagan Tribe, the community of Bugnay established outposts and encampments at the border area to secure the community members from attacks from the other tribe as gun battles ensued after the attack on February 3, 2020.

The municipal government of Tinglayan, in a bid to stop the exchange of gunfire from escalating, requested the Philippine Army to deploy some of their troops to serve as peacekeeping force pending the negotiation between the two tribes. The army heeded the request and sent its soldiers who improved the outpost and also used it as their encampment but the soldiers detailed there were pulled-out for unknown reasons.

Because of the absence of the soldiers who were supposed to serve peacekeeping force, members of the Butbut Tribe took over the outpost to guard their people against possible attacks from the other tribe, claiming it necessary as the Betwagan Tribe keeps on harassing their community since the peace pact between the two tribes broke.

The police, meanwhile, asserted that there should be no civilians in the disputed area but the Butbut Tribe claimed the police insisted that the outpost be dismantled or demolished without a deployment of a peacekeeping force that will avert another gun battles between the two tribes.

A negotiation was held between the officials of Barangay Bugnay together with the council of elders and the police of the province. However, the Butbut Tribe complained that while negotiations and a signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) was ongoing, police operatives led by Fakat and Lorette proceeded immediately on dismantling the outpost.

The Butbut Tribe stated that what the police did is not considered as dismantle but was an act of arson and malicious mischief as they burned everything including private logs and kitchen utensils. “Whereas, because of these actions or activities of the PNP in relation to this ongoing boundary dispute which are not duly coordinated nor consulted with the community and the tribe, the latter started to doubt on the true intention of the PNP and is starting to lose confidence and trust with the PNP,” stated the resolution.

Members of the Bugnay community also already petitioned the pull out of the Cordillera Police Regional Mobile Force Battalion (RMFB) from their territories. The tribe also claimed that the Cordillera Police regional director is enforcing rules and initiating moves without consulting the concerned tribe including the provincial government of Kalinga and the Tinglayan municipal government on matters that he intends to do or his plans relative to the dispute as the same has certain adverse effects on the culture, tradition and institution of the Butbut Tribe.

The tribe also claimed that as peace negotiation continues between them and Betwagan Tribe, they noticed the obvious biased decision-making of the Police Regional Director and the KPPO head. By HENT