The barbaric murders
By Atty. Antonio P. Pekas
It was shocking the allegation of somebody who had been in Abra for a long time regarding the brutal murder of three hunter-villagers from Besao, Mountain Province. The suspects are allegedly from Barangay Tabaoda of Tubo, Abra. This informant alleged that there are tribesmen in Abra who, when a certain tree starts bearing flowers, they had to kill somebody. Mutilating their victim is supposed to be part of the process. So, he ventured, the lives of the victims from Besao might have been taken in a devilish way in accordance with this tribal practice.
Then there was the story of Baltazar, who like the recent victims, was from Agawa, Besao who was murdered by hunters from Abra in the same forest, locally called pagpag, many decades ago. The matter was resolved in an eye for eye manner where able bodied men from Agawa swooped down into the Abra tribe where the suspects were from and kidnapped some children and women. The details are quite hazy now as the story was only handed down through oral tradition as that was the method back then of preserving knowledge on important occurrences.
So the Abra tribe had to negotiate and part of the result was the setting of boundaries between the two adjoining communities and their respective people must not stray into the other’s identified territory.
The identified boundaries however are now a blur as there were no surveyors then.
An eye for an eye was the erring tribe understood. It was, and might still be, the language “uncivilized” or barbaric tribes understand.
We are not urging here for people to take the law into their hands. The Besao people must find ways to force the authorities like the military and the people to find the suspects who should be subjected to the legal processes or the wheels of justice. The military and the police can readily find them if properly motivated or pushed by their superiors. Towards this end, the good mayor of Besao who is a retired high ranking police officer must doing everything he could and might be utilizing whatever influence he has..
This might also be the point of the Sangguniang Bayan of Besao in passing a resolution condemning the barbaric crimes and furnishing provincial authorities copies thereof. What happens behind the scenes, however, is what matters. Will there be enough pressure for the military and the police to do all they could for justice to be served?
As an aside, in this electronic and internet age, the said barbaric murders are not isolated cases in this region. We used to have an employee who hails from Natonin and he used to relate current stories of hunters there who ventured into the Mountain Province’s boundary with Kalinga disappearing, never to be found.**