Tension between Mountain Province tribes normalizes


BONTOC, Mountain Province – The long-drawn strained relations between people of the province’s two eastern towns and barangay Samoki of Bontoc has been normalized after officials of the two municipalities handed last Tuesday to the elders of Bontoc the amount that shall be used for the series of cleansing rituals.

The erstwhile harmonious association among Natonin, Paracelis and central Bontoc natives was severed after the shooting incident in April 2 last year resulting to the death of Police Chief Inspector Benjamin Challoy who was then the head of the  Highway Patrol Group based at the capital town. The three suspects, two from Paracelis and one from Natonin, were later arrested and are now detained at the Provincial Jail.

In a meeting last Tuesday moderated by provincial IP representative Tomas Tawagen, political leaders from Natonin and Paracelis thanked the elders of Bontoc for their guidance and wisdom in handling the case. “We feel sorry for what our brothers have done but with this development, I am sure we are going to the right direction,” Natonin Mayor Mateo Chiyawan was quoted as saying.

The same message was reiterated by Paracelis Mayor Avelino Amangyen saying that even though it took them sometime to talk with the Bontoc elders, it never diminished their determination to solve the issue the earliest possible time. “Given the circumstances, we had to have the correct timing and we are fortunate that we are all here to talk things out,” Amangyen averred.

Board members Raul Lapon, Stephen Afuyog and Carino Tamang took time to support the initiative of the two mayors and push for the speedy resolution of issues and to bring back to usual their normal relationship.

Well-placed sources have it that the amount, one hundred sixty thousand pesos (P160,000.00), which represents the full payment of what shall be used for the cleansing rites was equally shouldered by the five named officials. However, one of the officials  explained that whoever was the source of the money should not matter. “The amount has been produced because of an existing agreement within the four central barangays of Bontoc and because want to make peace with our brothers and sisters here in Bontoc,” the official said

It would be recalled that an agreement has been inked among elders and officials of the four central Bontoc Barangays setting a penalty of P160,000.00 to anyone who spills “human blood” within the territory.

But in any case, coming out with the amount could also be an act of goodwill that may result to future talks between the suspects and the aggrieved party. It likewise douses off possible retaliatory attacks from the offended party and ushers in friendly and concordant interactions from all concerned parties.

On hand to give their support to the initiative were former board member Ezra Gomez, board member Andre Claver, and Vice Governor Francis Tauli.

Among the elders who were with the four central Bontoc barangay officials were retired police officer William Aspilan, Ciriaco Filog and Santos Foman-eg.

Governor Bonifacio Lacwasan said he activity is a welcome development as far as maintenance of peace and order in the province is concerned. “I congratulate all the elders and officials who made the meeting a reality. I hope we could finally solve the problem in the coming days,” the governor remarked.