Representatives of concerned national line agencies together with the Police Regional Office-Cordillera have committed to help settle the long-standing rift between indigenous peoples of Betwagan,Sadanga, Mountain Province and Butbut, Ting-layan, Kalinga rooted on a dispute over the towns’ boundary.
PRO-Cor Director R’win Pagkalinawan said the police along with representatives of different national government agencies and ethnic group leaders have agreed to go to the disputed area on Dec. 16 as a result of a peace dialogue held in Tabuk City last week with the departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Public Works and Highways, Interior and Local Government, Agriculture, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, and the Philippine Army.
He said the plan is to have the representatives of each ethnic group identify their respective borders on site. If they do not reach agreement, the national government will intervene and decide on the proper delineation of the boundaries.
“Sa ating pag-akyat sa lugar, nandyan na ang DENR na maglalagay ng mohon, andyan ang DPWH to put up the structure, ang NCIP to identify the tribal leaders who know the borders and representatives para sila ang mag-mediate, ang DA para sila ang mag-address ng mga concerns on their sources of livelihood, andyan ang DILG to make sure leaders are committed to protect borders at all cost, at ang Army to maintain peace and order in the area,” Pagkalinawan said in a press conference on Dec. 9.
The two ethnic groups’ decades-long dispute, which stemmed from claims over a forested land situated on the towns’ borders, has resulted in bloody clashes and retaliations that affected innocent members of the warring ethnic groups.
The provincial governments of Mountain Province and Kalinga have since been brokering for a permanent solution to the dispute.
Pagkalinawan said bringing along the government agencies aims to readily provide needed services to support in the solution of the conflict, as part of the government’s whole of nation approach to bring the police closer and being able to assist communities, especially those in the hard to reach areas, and make them feel and believe their concerns are heard and addressed.
This is unlike in the past when barangays were given promises but government services failed to reach them.
“Ito ang talagang magandang nangyari this year, nabibigyan na ng importansya ang mga request ng mga barangay na for the longest time walang dumarating na galing sa national agencies to help them develop. Now, kapag ang sundalo at pulis ay dumating sa lugar nila at humingi sila ng tulong, dumarating na dahil meron talagang perang provided for projects whether it’s peace and order concern, health concern, or irrigation concern,” Pagkalinawan said. – Hanna C. Lacsamana