BAGUIO CITY (Jan. 23) — A tribal elder from Kalinga’s Tulgao tribe claimed that the Tabuk local government’s moves to outlaw tribal war in their area fails to address the causes of un-peace.
Johnny T. Sawadan welcomed the matagoan or peace zone of the local government of Tabuk but criticized their proposal to outlaw tribal war in the area.
“It must be pointed out that tribal war is already outlawed and not recognized under the state system. So how can you outlaw what is not recognized by the state?” Sawadan said in an interview.
Under the matagoan or peace zone concept being pushed by the local government of Tabuk, a tribal war is prohibited in at least its seven barangays to allegedly maintain peace and harmony.
Limited peace concept
Sawadan said that while Tabuk prohibits tribal war in these identified areas, as if it is alright for these tribal conflicts to happen outside the identified area. “Is it also alright then if causes of un-peace, which is not tribal in nature happen in these areas?” he asked.
He pointed out that such is a very limited concept of peace. Peace should address the causes of un-peace which is not only due to tribal war but also economic and political causes.
“Robbery and theft for example are cases rooted on economic problems but must be solved based on justice to the victims,” he explained adding: “the root causes of these problems should be solved so that there will be peace.
He also criticized the Tabuk matagoan concept that a severed bodong (peace pact) between tribes outside Tabuk should remain intact in the areas identified as matagoan peace zones in that city.
“If a bodong between two tribes is severed, then it remains as such (severed) in any other place until restored by the two tribes involved,” Sawadan added. The spill over of a tribal war in urban areas like Tabuk and Baguio should not be done. It should be confined to the ili.
“If the bodong is strengthened this kind of problem will be solved,” he claimed.
Recognize bodong system
Bodong is a bilateral relationship between two peace-pact practicing villages or tribes in Kalinga and some parts of Mountain Province and Abra. It is originally meant to establish harmonious relationships between the villages or tribes concerned, explained Sawadan.
Sawadan said bodong is the only solution for the tribal conflicts based on the experiences of the tribes in Kalinga. He urged the government to fully recognize it and should not impose inapplicable state systems on tribes.
“This system is proven to be effective and the state should recognize it instead,” he said.
Sawadan and the Cordillera Elders Alliance (CEA) is presently campaigning for the recognition of indigenous political institutions in the region like bodong, dap-ay, tongtong, among others, as an effective way of settling conflicts among tribes. # Arthur L. Allad-iw for NORDIS