Mountain Province, Abra folk hold talks

LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET -- A traditional “tongtong” (dialogue) were held between elders of Agawa in Besao, Mt. Province and Tubo in Abra together with municipal and provincial officials at the Police Regional Office Cordillera in Camp Bado Dangwa to solve the killing of three Besao villagers.

Mountain Province Governor Bonifacio Lacwasan said the dialogue seeks to abate further violence between two indigenous peoples (IP) communities.

During the dialogue, one of the conditions set for a 'Sapata' (pledge) to be made for the IP communities and that for all committed that there would be no violence between Mt. Province and Abra residents.

He added 'tongtong' is a customary tradition of the highlands.

Last month, Besao folk condemned the killing of the three villagers through a prayer rally and ecumenical mass in Baguio City.

A manifesto was also signed by more than 300 people, states that the real murderers were not identified calling the attention of the Tubo Municipal Police Station, Police Regional Office Cordillera and the Criminal and Investigation Detection Group of the Philippine National Police to conduct intensive investigation on how the murders occurred.

In May 27, bodies of Jansen Gabaen, Ronnie Macayba and Pedro Sauyen all from Besao, Mt. Province were found lifeless, sustaining gunshots and hack wounds after fishing for eels in the forest at the boundary of Mt. Province and Abra locally called as “Pagpag area.”

In June 20, three counts of murder were filed against Marlon Bacali Batuli, 39 years old, and resident of Barangay Tabacda, Tubo in Abra before the Provincial Prosecutor's Office in Bangued, Abra following the statements of barangay official and council of elders that Batuli admitted to them together with other elders and some residents that he committed the crime.


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