Customary laws proven effective in dispute resolution

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TABUK CITY, Kalinga  – The customary law still practiced among the iKalingas was once again proven effective in the settlement of disputes among individuals and feuding tribes.

A ‘parjaya’ case   lodged by “Binodngan” employees of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) before the “Bodong’ of the Guinaang tribe of Pasil was solved because of the adoption of customary lawas in the settlement of disputes among feuding tribes.

‘Bodong’ is a bilateral peacepact between two sub-tribes and ‘Binodngan’ are the people covered by a peacepact. Parjaya is a crime punishable in the “Pagta” (provisions) defined as giving false testimony against any Binodngan, which in this case the NCIP employees are victims and the Guinaang tribe as offender.

The NCIP provincial office here called on peacepact holders and the media recently to attend the celebration of peace now that the case is resolved to spread the message that speaking the truth is a sublime trademark of the Bodong and to set a precedent that Parjaya shall be dealt according to the Pagta.  The Guinaang tribe paid P10,000.00 to the offended party which is termed as “pagikna” (notice of closure).

The case stemmed from a petition by Artemio Dalsen with the NCIP central office on September 17, 2013 entitled “Manifesto of the Guinaang’s Tribespeople, Pasil, Kalinga Opposing Makilala Mining Company Exploration and Mining Plan in their Ancestral Domain,’ where NCIP was conducting Pre- Free and Prior Informed Consent or FPIC.

The FPIC process, however, proceeded which prompted Dalsen and Benedicto Lingbawan, both indigenous people of Pasil,   to file another complaint on December 6, 2013 before the NCIP Regional Hearing Office (RHO) against the NCIP provincial office represented by Natividad Sugguiyao alleging that NCIP manipulated the conduct of FPIC.

The complaint alleged that the tribal leaders who compose the council of elders that participated in the FPIC process and who approved of the exploration, was “fake”; the process was bias; the communities were not consulted, among others.

This time, NCIP- Kalinga suspended its FPIC process and answered the allegations. Sugguiyao also maintained that the FPIC process followed the right procedures.

On January 27, 2014, the RHO dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction referring the case to the NCIP Cordillera Administrative Region regional office.

Meanwhile, hurt by the allegations, the 11-member FPIC team headed by Miguel Atumpa and Dominic Cawas,   NCIP employees and “Binodngan”, complained before the Guinaang Peacepact Holders that Dalsen and Lingbawan, be held liable under the Pagta’s  Bodong for Parjaya for the false statements they subscribed in  their  complaint.

On May 15, 2014, NCIP-CAR director Amador Batay-an, rendered a decision denying the petition ordering the FPIC team to proceed with the remaining activities of the FPIC process.

A person found guilty of ‘Parjaya” usually pays a fine of two carabaos. However, this was not followed in this case as the Bodong Pagta can be flexible and conflicts maybe resolved in a case-to-case basis depending on the agreement to be entered by the parties upon the intercession of the council of elders.

By Dexter A. See

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