PNP brass persona non grata;gov’t pushes solution to Kalinga, MP tribal dispute

>> Wednesday, March 10, 2021

SADANGA, Mountain Province -- The government is trying to resolve the tribal war between the Betwagan tribe here and Bugnay of Tinglayan, Kalinga over border dispute through inter-agency efforts aimed at keeping peace in the region through a “whole-of-nation” approach.
    This, even as four Philippine National Police chiefs in the region were declared persona non grata by the Butbut tribe over the reported dismantling and burning of a civilian outpost at the border which Butbut folks manned to check intruders now that both tribes are engaged in hostilities.     
    The Police Regional Office-Cordillera earlier held a meeting with stakeholders at Camp Dangwa, La Trinidad, Benguet to find ways to solve the dispute Feb. 24.
     National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Cordillera legal officer lawyer Atanacio Addog presented findings on recent boundary validation between barangays Betwagan in Sadanga and Bugnay of Tinglayan, Kalinga as a result of inter-agency fact finding investigation.
     “With the support of other members, whatever recommendations of the subcommittee, we will forward it to the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) and the council will be the one to submit it to the joint Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Mountain Province and Kalinga,” said Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee chairman and Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. R’win S. Pagkalinawan.
    PRO-Cor chief of regional staff Col. Ramil Saculles said presentation of findings to the RPOC will make council members understand the problem so the issue will not be politicized.
    He added the inter-agency fact-finding investigation looked into pieces of evidence on the issue.
    “There was no bias during the inquiry. We considered all evidence presented by both parties and third parties,” Saculles said.
    Prior to meeting, several meetings were held on the issue with concerned parties including both tribes, elders, government agencies and involved communities.
    Lately, after the dismantling of the civilian post in the disputed boundary, the Butbut tribe declared the Cordillera and Kalinga police directors including two police chiefs persona non grata within areas of the tribe in the province.
    Through resolution 01 S. Of 2021, Pagkalinawan, provincial police director Col. Davy Vicente Limmong, 2nd KPMFC commander Maj. Daniel Fakat, and Lt. Col. Armando Lorette Jr. of Kalinga Police Provincial Office were declared persona non grata in barangays Bugnay, Buscalan, Loccong, Butbut Proper, and Ngibat of Tinglayan as well as other barangays and sitios occupied by said tribe in Kalinga.
    The resolution was signed by barangay captains of Bugnay, Loccong, Butbut Proper, and Ngibat in Tinglayan including the barangay captain of Lacnog in Tabuk City and a councilor in Liwan West, Rizal and others on Feb. 24.
    Under the resolution, they wrote that the community of Bugnay put up the outpost at the border area to secure their community from impending attacks from Betwagan tribe after severance of their Bodong on Feb. 3, 2020.
    With the situation, the Tinglayan local government requested personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be deployed at the disputed area as peace-keeping force.
    The civilian outpost they built was later improved by the AFP as their encampment.
    However, on Jan. 1, 2021, AFP personnel were reportedly pulled out from their post.
    This, they said, resulted to their re-occupation of the post to secure their community. “Since the peace pact was already severed, the Betwagan tribe keeps on harassing and attacking the community,” they wrote.
    They added that they were willing to leave the post if the peace- keeping force will return to guarantee the community’s security.
    However, the PNP, they said, insisted on the dismantling of the post without deploying a peace-keeping force.
    “The community does not allow the demolition of the civilian encampments if there would be no peace keeping force unit that would be deployed in the disputed area because the civilians are obliged to secure the community in the absence of peace- keeping force,” they wrote in the resolution.
    They said a negotiation was conducted between the Bugnay barangay officials with the council of elders and the PNP for peaceful dismantling and memorandum of agreement was supposed to be executed.
    “While the MOA was being signed, the PNP under supervision of Maj. Fakat and Lt. Col. Lorette proceeded immediately with dismantling of said civilian posts thereby disregarding ongoing negotiation and the executed MOA,” they said.
    The tribe claimed that what the PNP did was not dismantling but arson and malicious mischief burning everything including private logs and kitchen utensils.
    “Because of these actions or activities of the PNP in relation to this ongoing boundary dispute which are not duly coordinated or consulted with the community and the tribe, the latter started to doubt the true intention of the PNP and is starting to lose confidence and trust with the PNP. In fact, the community already petitioned for the immediate pull-out of the PNP RMFB deployed in the community due to intense dismay of what the PNP is doing,” stated the resolution.
    The Butbut tribe further said in the resolution police were enforcing rules and initiating moves without consulting concerned tribes along with provincial and municipal local governments.
    Limmong however said the demolished outpost was located at the disputed border and its presence at the site could invite more hostilities between the two tribes.  – With reports from Jamie Joie Malingan of PIA and Guru Press


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