Decades-long boundary dispute between two Kalinga tribes reaches Malacañang

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – The long-standing conflict between the Butbut tribe in Tinglayan, Kalinga and the Betwagan tribe in Sadanga, Mt. Province has reached Malacañang, according to Kalinga Bodong Council chairperson Andres Ngao-i.

(Photo from Rizaldy Comanda)

The Butbut and Betwagan tribes are embroiled in a decades-long boundary dispute that led to the severance of their ‘bodong’ (peace pact) and has triggered violence that claimed one life so far.

Ngao-i said there has been no progress in the resolution of the conflict. Recent efforts to restore peace between the two tribes through a ‘sipat’ (peace accord) have failed.

Ngao-i also said that talks to identify the boundary of the two tribes reached an impasse after the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Kalinga rejected the boundary findings of the Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (RLECC) while the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Mt. Province affirmed it.

Tensions rose again last March 23 after members of the Betwagan tribe went to the disputed boundary and fired shots.

"And again we received an invitation from Major General Mina of the 5th Infantry Division with an order from the Chief of Staff to their soldiers to take part in the issue that reached Malacañang," Ngao-i said.

Ngao-I said, during the recent joint Provincial Peace and Order Council-Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council (PPOC-PADAC) meeting, he informed officials that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity has interceded to help in the resolution of the conflict.

To prevent further escalation, the PPOC-PADAC passed a resolution requesting authorities to dispatch police detachments to the centers of Bugnay and Butbut. “Increased police visibility is hoped to make tribe members think twice about heading to the disputed border.”

The task force will propose a 'sipat' between the barangay leaders of the two tribes during the scheduled meeting with the Fifth Infantry Division.

Ngao-I added that the 'sipat' is being pushed because part of the barangay officials’ mandate is to maintain peace and order.