TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Hundreds of elders of the Butbut Tribe urged Rep. Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang to file a resolution directing the House committee on indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples (ICCPIPs) to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the alleged manifest indifference of Police Brig. Gen. R’win Pagkalinawan, regional director of the Police Regional Office (PRO) in the Cordillera, to the indigenous practices, customs and traditions of the Cordillerans in handling the ongoing peace negotiations on the tribal boundary dispute of the Butbut Tribe of Kalinga and the Betwagan Tribe of Sadanga, Mountain Province.
In a petition transmitted to Rep. Mangaoang, the elders stated that the government and the whole organization of the police should not be tarnished just because of the alleged unsound decision-making of a certain police officer, like the PRO-COR regional director, on sensitive matters, especially concerning indigenous practices, customs and traditions.
The petition stipulated that Pagkalinawan overall approach or the way he negotiates the Butbut-Betwagan tribal conflict contravenes the traditional customs, practices and customary laws and a blatant infringement of the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).
Under the said law, the State is mandated to protect the rights of indigenous peoples to their ancestral domain to ensure their economic, social and cultural well-being and shall recognize the applicability of customary laws governing property rights or relations in determining the ownership and extent of ancestral domain.
On February 3, 2020, the peace pact or ‘bodong’ of the Butbut Tribe of Tinglayan town with the Betwagan Tribe of Sadanga, Mountain Province was severed due to their unresolved boundary dispute.
The settlement of the tribal boundary dispute was subsequently endorsed to the provincial boards of Kalinga and Mountain Province for its settlement as it happened that the dispute will serve as the official tribal, at the same time, the barangay, municipal and provincial boundary in the future.
However, because of the prevailing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the joint session for the aforesaid purpose was intermittently delayed, thus, the dispute remains pending resolution.
While the dispute is still pending before the legislative bodies of both provinces, members of the Betwagan Tribe allegedly kept on harassing and attacking the community of Bugnay where the Butbut Tribe is situated that have resulted to fierce exchange of gunfire and caused numerous of violations from both tribes.
The petition noted that because of the frequent exchanges of gunfire between the members of both tribes, the PRO-COR reportedly intervened to peacefully negotiate the conflict.
Ironically, in the course of negotiating the conflict, Pagkalinawan allegedly enforced rules and initiated moves without consulting the Butbut Tribe, including the provincial and municipal units, especially on matters that he intends to do or his plans on the dispute as the same have certain adverse effects on the culture, tradition and institution of the affected tribe.
It can be recalled that Pagkalinawan initiated series of dialogue between the two tribes hoping that the tribal conflict will be resolved peacefully. By HENT