One of the biggest problems in the Cordilleras (and the whole country as well) is the boundary disputes between local government units. It is a problem that mostly simmers under the surface but it has the potential to blow up especially if contested areas are rich with resources or offers high income opportunities.
In the article below, an official from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) suggests that elders should be involved in settling boundary disputes. There is nothing wrong with that of course, it’s better that these things are decided by more people rather than by a few officials. However we are, by the day, losing our elders who really know the boundaries of the past. [In fact, are our earlier concept of boundaries really the same as what “boundary” means today?] The other thing is that I’m not quite sure if the elders could be impartial if they are members of communities in dispute. But, as mentioned earlier, it is better that they are involved in this process.
Elders seen to best solve boundary disputes
WHILE the resolution of political boundary disputes is delegated to elected officials, the identification and settlement by tribal elders is yet the best way to solve these kinds of tiffs.
Recto Alawas, community relations officer of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) regional office, said the best way to settle boundary conflicts is through the council of elders in areas where these disputes exist.
Since elders are more knowledgeable on the borders of their respective places, having lived long in their areas, Alawas said their decision could be used as a basis by politicians in settling boundary conflicts.
He made the suggestion to municipal officials of Tublay and La Trinidad on their standing disputes involving two villages of their respective localities.
Both municipalities are claiming portions of Barangay Shilan, La Trinidad with Caponga, Tublay; and Barangays Alno, La Trinidad with Tuel, Tublay.
Alawas said boundary conflicts are best resolved through the elders, as they are not afraid of losing their careers with whatever decisions they make, unlike politicians who are apprehensive of coming out with their stand lest they lose their supporters.
“When the decision on political boundaries is made by the elders, politicians need not worry of losing their votes, as they only base their stand on the people who are more knowledgeable on their borders,” he said, adding that elected officials are afraid of defining their positions for fear that they might be accused of giving up their territories to other areas.
“But if their basis would be the decision of the council of elders, then they could not be blamed,” he said. (JC)