BONTOC, Mountain Province – Members of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) here called for sobriety amidst the fired-up tension between Bugnay of Tinglayan, Kalinga and Betwagan of Sadanga, Mountain Province. The two barangays had been at odds with each other over tribal boundary issues but were on talking terms to peacefully settle their dispute until an unfortunate incident happened within the disputed area last December 28, 2022. Sketchy police report reveals that successive gunfire of different calibers were heard atop Mount Pilaw and Mount Kumaykay. The exchange of gunfire resulted in the death of a Betwagan tribesman.
Provincial Police Director Colonel Edwin Dawiguey, when asked of his assessment, said that immediate action from the provincial peace council is needed to avert the possible escalation of the problem. “We need not to wait for another innocent life to be sacrificed,” Dawiguey remarked.
Governor Bonifacio Lacwasan, Jr. who chairs the local peace council asked residents from both tribes not to be carried by their emotions but rather look for diplomatic solutions to their problems. He said that he stands by the provisions of the agreement he signed with Kalinga Governor James Edduba last September 13, 2022. Known as the Mount Data Peace Covenant of 2022, the agreement emphasizes that settlement of inter-boundary disputes should be done through negotiations, mediation, conciliation, and other diplomatic approaches. Among those who affixed their signature as witness to the covenant was Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., Presidential Adviser for Peace, Reconciliation and Unity.
In a statement released last week, Mountain Province State Polytechnic College President Edgar Cue affirmed the college’s commitment in upholding the value and dignity of human life and condemning violence as a tool to solve disputes. “As an academic institution, the college promotes and upholds the respect of law in the resolution of disputes. We join the collective call for sobriety and prudence as we peacefully face the present problem,” the statement asserted.
The statement also called on both tribes to spare students from the tribal tiff. “We call on both parties to recognize the college including its Tadian and Paracelis campuses as neutral grounds and as zones of peace where students from all areas shall not be affected or threatened,” the statement emphasized.
For his part, District Engineer Alberto Gahid manifested his agency’s support in securing the safety of all travelers traversing the Mountain Province section of the Mountain Province-Cagayan via Tabuk national highway. In his letter addressed to local officials concerned, Gahid sought the assistance of the people so as not to affect the access of trade and delivery of basic services as well as the welfare of residents, particularly the students from both tribes.