BOLINEY, Abra – Age-old and time-honored customary laws like the ‘tongtongan’ or village negotiation have been crucial in amicably settling disputes that has resulted in the very minimal number of crimes reported to the blotter of the local police force, especially in the upland towns of the province, and the cases being filed in the local courts, Vice Governor Ronald Balao-as said here recently.
Balao-as, who is also the chairman of the unotified Cordillera Liberations Army (CPLA) and a member of the influential council of elders in their community, pointed out contending parties involved in disputes are often subjected to the ‘tongtongan’ by the village elders to amicably settle their conflicts for practical reasons considering that undergoing the tedious litigation process of cases will only result to huge expenses to be incurred by both parties and the waste of time and resources compared to that of undergoing the customary way of settling disputes.
“We are elated that many of our IP brothers and sisters still believe in the traditional way of settling conflicts instead of availing of the complicated legal processes. We hope that our proven customary practices will still be able to be passed on to the future generations for us to sustain the occurrence of lesser crimes and cases being reported to authorities,” Vice Governor Balao-as stressed.
He underscored contending parties are obliged to undergo the initial ritual of ‘sabusab’ prior to the negotiation proper so that they will be compelled to tell the elders the truth of what transpired the resulted to the existence of their dispute that could have resulted to death or injury of people and inflicted damage to their properties among other problems that were caused to their families.
If there will be parties that will not accept their fault on the dispute being subjected to the ‘tongtongan,’ the members of the council of elders subject the said individual and his companions to the traditional ‘sapata’ wherein he or she will be required to swear to the heavens that he or she has no sin and that something will happen to him or her once he or she is not telling the truth.
He added in almost all cases, those who were subjected to the ‘sapata’ suffered what they have sworn to happen to them if they were not telling the truth.
After the parties shall have agreed on the compensation of the concerned party, the ‘tongtongan’ will end up in a ritual called the ‘pakpakan’ wherein the one who was at fault will butcher a cow to feed the parties and the members of the council of elders for the successful settlement of the dispute and for the concerned parties to start bringing back their good relations.
He explained IPs involved in conflicts prefer to undergo the customary way of settling disputes because it is reportedly much cheaper, easier and less time spent compared to undergoing the tedious legal process that is prone to legal maneuvers that could lead to the waste of time, effort and resources once the decision rendered by the court will not be in favour of the concerned party.
Balao-as urged the younger IPs to learn the customary ways of settling conflicts so that the proven practical ways of ending conflicts will be passed on to the future generations.