January 30, 2023

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Members of the Provincial Peace and Order Council called for sobriety amidst the tension between Bugnay of Tinglayan, Kalinga and Betwagan of Sadanga, Mountain Province.

The two barangays have been at odds over boundary issues but were on talking terms to settle their dispute until an incident happened within the disputed area last Dec. 28, 2022.

Sketchy police reports revealed successive gunfires were heard atop Mount Pilaw and Mount Kumaykay. The exchange of gunfire resulted to the death of a Betwagan tribesman.

Provincial Police Director Col. Edwin Dawiguey said immediate action of PPOC is needed to avert escalation of the problem.

Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan Jr., who chairs the Local Peace and Order Council, asked the two ethnolinguistic groups to look for diplomatic solutions.

He said he stands by the Mount Data Peace Covenant he signed with Kalinga Gov. James Edduba last Sept. 13, 2022 where it was agreed that settlement of boundary disputes should be done through negotiations, mediation, conciliation, and other diplomatic approaches.

Presidential Adviser for Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. was one of the witnesses when the covenant was signed.

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 respect for law in the resolution of disputes. We join the collective call for sobriety and prudence as we peacefully face the present problem,” Cue said.

Cue also called on both tribes to spare students from the conflict. “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.”

District Engineer Alberto Gahid also manifested the DPWH’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 public so as not to prevent access to the road. – Angel Baybay