BONTOC, Mountain Province – Gov. Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr. disclosed that elders of the Betwagan tribe want all animals within the disputed area be withdrawn by both tribes before entering into a ‘sipat’ or exchange of peace tokens with their counterparts from the Butbut tribe of nearby Tinglayan town in Kalinga as an initial step to resolve the long-drawn conflict between the two tribes.
Lacwasan said that he personally talked with the elders of the Betwagan tribe right after their meeting with Kalinga Gov. James Edubba in Sagada town during the kick off program of the celebration of the 35th founding anniversary of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) where the resolution of the conflict between the Betwagan and Butbut tribes was discussed and the position of the Betwagan elders is for the disputed area to be cleared of all animals belonging to the feuding tribes before they will accede to the proposed ‘sipat’ between them and their counterparts.
“Everyone wants lasting peace in our province and our region and we are willing to work hand in hand with out counterparts to find possible ways and means to settle this ongoing dispute between the two tribes,” Lacwasan stressed.
The governor claimed he already informed Gov. Edubba on the clear position of the Betwagan tribe on the ongoing dispute and that the latter told him he will get back to him after the meeting of the Kalinga Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) for them to be updated on the developments on the dispute.
According to him, the disputed area is supposed to be the resting area of the animals being used for the farming activities of the members of the Betwagan tribe over the past several decades.
However, the members of the Butbut tribe allegedly used the area as the pasture land for the dispersal animals they got from concerned government agencies.
Lacwasan pointed out that the efforts of Gov. Edubba to reach out to the province’s officialdom to look for solutions to the said conflict is laudable and the provincial government immediately did its part to consult with the elders of the Betwagan tribe on their insights and thoughts on the offer to go back to the negotiating table.
He stipulated that the provincial government and the Betwagan tribe elders will simply await the decision of the elders of the Butbut tribe and the Kalinga PPOC on the former’s condition before accepting the proposed exchange of peace tokens so that the realization of lasting peace in the region can achieved the soonest.
The provincial chief executive explained that the condition of the elders of the Betwagan tribe had been previously communicated to their counterparts from the Butbut tribe but it seems that such condition had not been acceptable to the latter that caused the long-standing dispute to remain unsettled to date.
He expressed hope that with the overwhelming support of Gov. Edubba to the realization of lasting peace between the feuding tribes, there will be initial gains in such efforts in the coming weeks so that members of both tribes can pursue their productive activities within their communities without encountering problems that may affect the law and order in this area.