Front NEWS RELEASE
Refer to Dexter A. See
BANGUED, Abra December 08 – Hundreds of local officials, aspirants for the different elective positions, tribal leaders, civil society group representatives and religious and youth leaders signed a peace covenant here Saturday that would bind and oblige them to enhance and actively perform their sworn obligations under the agreement to sustain peace efforts province.
The signed peace covenant known as the ‘Pagta ti Kapya’ is totally different from previously signed peace covenants because it embraced indigenous people practices of Cordillerans that would curse those who violate the contents of the agreement plus the imposition of culturally accepted penalties to violators among others.
“Pagta or katulagan’ or covenant is an indigenous system binding or obliging parties to agreed conditions under a solemn oath called “bagwas.’ It manifests wisdom, sacredness and common sense. It is synonymous to a blood compact where the parties are bound to honor it at all cost.
The signing of the ‘Pagta ti Kpaya’ was spearheaded by the Abra Peace Conveners and the Abra Youth Organization in order to bring together all local and tribal leaders to commit themselves to the compact that would fulfil the dream of Abrenians for lasting peace using as guiding principles the protection of life, honor and property.
Under the agreement, the identified punishable acts of local and tribal leaders would be the proliferation of illegal drugs, political and personal killings, proliferation of loose firearms, maintenance and sustained existence of private armed groups, and the reign of bad governance in their respective areas of jurisdiction.
For the proliferation of illegal drugs in their respective areas or jurisdiction, local and tribal leaders would be penalized by a fine in cash or in kind to be determined by the council of elders or lupon in the barangay, manual labor or reformatory task and rehabilitation upon the recommendation of a drug expert.
Those who will be arrested by law enforcers for their direct involvement in political and personal killings will be required to pay a fine of P300,000 and to sign a commitment for the settlement of the case or else the charges against them will be endorsed for filing before the provincial prosecutor’s office if the same cannot be settled the indigenous way. The council of elders will be organized as a grievance committee to serve as the tribal court in solving the said cases to be brought to their attention.
On the other hand, those who be apprehended to be in possession of loose firearms will be fined P50,000 or two carabaos and that the seized firearms will be under the custody of the police for appropriate licensing procedures.
Aside from being penalized under existing laws and regulations in relation to the maintenance of private armies, those found to be maintaining private armed groups will be punished under acceptable indigenous peoples practices to be determined by the council of elders.
For those who will be involved in graft and corruption, those who will be found guilty will be obliged to return the amount that he or she amassed and is mandated to butcher cows and carabaos and to feed the public in order to make him suffer the consequences of their illegal acts.
The contents of the peace covenant will be enforced pursuant to the provisions of the Revised Penal code of the Philippines and that the same will be in full force and effect through the council of elders in the Tinguian communities and the lupon in the Ilocano communities.
Under the signed peace covenant, there shall be created a special action office to process all issues and concerns regarding the implementation of the agreement which shall make a periodic relative to the compliance of local officials and tribal leaders to their respective commitments. It shall be composed of one head of office and two staff members in order to appropriately look into the implementation of the same.
Director Benjamin B. Magalong of the Directorate for Investigation of the Philippine National Police, Maj. Gen. Angelito de Leon of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, Chief Superintendent Ulysses G. Abellera, regional director of the Police Regional Office (PRO) in the Cordillera, provincial election supervisor May Rachel Belmes Beronilla and Senior Superintendent Antonio Bartolome, Abra provincial police director, witnessed the signing of the covenant which were signed by provincial officials led by Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin and municipal officials, tribal leaders and representatives from all concerned stakeholders wanting Abra to achieve lasting peace.
By Dexter A. See