Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Kalinga Forge Peace the Bodong Way


Kalingas Forge Peace the Bodong Way

How are the rules of bodong (traditional peace pact) and state laws used to settle conflicts between two tribes? This question elicited a thousand and one responses from Kalinga tribes who, in an assembly here last week, moved for the holding of a bodong congress soon.

By Lyn V. Ramo and Marlon Gomarcho
Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat

BAGUIO CITY - How are the rules of bodong (traditional peace pact) and state laws used to settle conflicts between two tribes? This question elicited a thousand and one responses from Kalinga tribes who, in an assembly here last week, moved for the holding of a bodong congress soon.

Kalinga officials who were at the conference agreed that the talks be held, said lawyer Elorde Lingayo, chair of the Kalinga Bodong Convenors’ Group (KBCG). KBCG has been spearheading attempts at conflict resolution between Kalinga tribes.

Lingayo bats for popularizing the general Pagta (tribal agreement) held on Oct. 1, 1999 at the Benguet State University (BSU) campus. The agreement has been adopted by some Kalinga city-based binodngan and members of the bodong-practicing villages in Kalinga, northern province of the Cordillera mountain ranges in northern Philippines.

The general pagta, according to Lingayo, covers Baguio and the province of Benguet. Foremost, he said, the general pagta prohibits bales (revenge) to settle conflicts. The bales culture has spilled much blood among tribal groups for centuries.

In the 1999 pagta, if a tribal villager commits a mistake, i.e., has killed or hurt a member of another tribe, a criminal case must be filed against the offender. The bodong holder from the offender’s tribe should testify in court. If the offender flees, the bodong holder brings him back to Baguio or Benguet.

Criminal case

Elders from both tribes may settle the conflict the bodong way, clarifies Lingayo, but the criminal case will take its course. The offended party is prohibited from executing an affidavit of desistance.

Kalinga lawyers are not supposed to assist in the legal proceedings, as agreed upon in the general pagta.

“This is where the modification lies,” says Lingayo. He explained that in the original pagta, if someone commits a crime within the binodngan areas, the offending person does not suffer alone. The tribe usually produces whatever the offended tribe demands.

“If 10 carabaos are asked to settle the offense, only one carabao may come from the perpetrator of the crime,” he says. “It is the responsibility of the whole tribe to solicit (the settlement payment).”

In the old ways, Lingayo said, the “criminal will never reform because he will have no criminal record in courts.” After the tribal settlement, criminals may hold government positions and may even enter the Philippine Military Academy or be a police officer, he said.

There have been other attempts at settling tribal conflicts. For instance last January, the Lubuagan and Guinaang tribes forged a bodong in Baguio covering this city and Benguet.

Mario Gawon, peace pact holder for the Lubuagan tribe, explains that the Lubuagan-Guinaang conflict is not as grave as those in other binodngan areas where revenge is still allowed.

Saan a kaskarina nga innibusan ti tribo. Ngem kasapulan latta ti ag-precaution” (It’s not at all easy to simply kill members of the other tribe. Still, we have to take caution), Gawon clarifies.

The Guinaang triba was represented by Benny Lingbawan.

Gawon said, a criminal case had to be filed in the courts while the tribes settled the case.

Legal problems

The Lubuagan peace pact holder admits however that there are legal intricacies in merging bodong rules with state laws.

“We have to live in the present,” Gawon says. “Saan a kasla idi a bassit pay ti tattao ken awan pay ti cell phones” (Unlike before when people were few and there were no cellular phones).

It is not always easy to forge a bodong, Gawon admits, as it requires a lot of preparations and involves many people who have a say in the holding of a celebration of the bodong.

There are, for instance, the allasiw (tokens). If a member of the tribe disagrees with the terms of the bodong, the allasiw is returned which is a signal of the collapse of the agreement. Tribes, however, try to convince all members on the rules or terms of the bodong.

A bodong is based on consensus. “Masapol ket amin ag-wen” (Everyone has to approve), Gawon clarifies. Consensus makes the peace pact solid, he adds. If one member of a tribe offends a member of the other tribe with whom his tribe has an agreement, the bodong could not just collapse. Tribal elders and leaders find ways to talk it out and save the bodong.

In case the bodong collapses, however, an emissary from a neutral party, usually a member of a third tribe, or a mestizo from the warring tribes, is sent to the other tribe to inform them that the bodong has collapsed.

Gawon emphasized that tribal communities and binodngan areas are generally peaceful. It has been like this since I was young, he says, correcting fears that going to Kalinga or any tribal area involves risks.

“One has to really understand how the bodong works to appreciate it. Only then can one compare state laws as combined with the bodong way to settle differences among tribal peoples,” Gawon says. Nordis / Bulatlat


Anonymous said...

Helow...i dont know f i hav d ryt 2 post a comment hir.Actualy,im searching 4 a kalinga culture dat should we adapt or continue 2days generation...coz dat was our assign.Even though im not a kalinga bt ive grown up in Tabuk...About d topic u did,it calls my attention.Coz,honestly d years dat i lived in OUR PROVINCE i had jaz a little idea about d they called "bodong",i agree w/ u...Im very thankful coz der r people who r concerned about it,So dat other people understand wat is it mean and how important.COZ many of my clasmate knew dat kalinga was a warrior people, headhunters,uncivilized,having a i always explain d real one...tnx.

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