Tribal rituals ended bloody Manobo clan conflict in Agusan 

by Ben Serrano

November 17, 2010


            SIBAGAT, Agusan del Sur- Ageless Manobo tribal ritual called “Pangapog” and “Madong Hadang Singwe” practiced since time immemorial by Philippine Manobo tribes to settle clan conflict finally ended nearly three years of bloody Manobo clan conflict between Mabandos-Behing clans.


            According to Baylan Datu Katipunan whose rank “Baylan” means tribal priest or spiritual leader, Pangapog means calling of tribal spirits, the Gods and the angels to come and intervene to help settle tribal conflict peacefully.


            While “Madong Hadang Singwe” is an old Manobo offering of animals such as native or wild pigs and chickens for the tribal spirits in order for them to come and help settle peace.


            The two warring clans were actually the ruling Manobo clans settling within more than 60,000 hectares of ancestral lands in this town whose land area reaches as far as Surigao del Sur.


            The Philippine Government through the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) issued in year 2001 Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title now known as CADT 093 to the Wawa Sectoral Tribal Council where the Behings and Mabandos belonged and acknowledged leaders.


            “Because of problems of utilization of natural resources within their ancestral lands, animosity started between the Mabandos and Behings”, NCIP deputy regional director for Caraga region Elvira Catuburan told newsmen who attended the tribal rites.


            Official government records show, the clan conflict already cost lives of CADT 093 principal holder Manobo Datu Luzvimindo Behing who is leader of the Behing clan and his brother, Datu Leandro “Andot” Behing who is successor of Datu Luzvimindo Behing.


            The two were murdered in 2008 and 2009, respectively, shot dead by unidentified gunmen.


            Authorities until now have not identified the Behing Brothers’ killers or gunmen and masterminds in the brutal slay of the two Manobo tribal chieftains.


            At the time of his death, Datu Luzvimindo Behing was Barangay Captain of Padi-ay, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur and Sibagat Municipal Councilor. Elected as Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) of Sibagat town, Behing automatically earned a Municipal Council seat


            The late Councilor Behing was shot in broad daylight infront Sibagat Municipal Hall after emerging from the town council session.


            In 2009, his successor brother, Datu Andot Behing was shot dead also in br6ad daylight infront a Philippine Army Headquarter in Barangay Bancasi , Butuan City.


Andot Behing emerged from a meeting with military officials where Behing asked security augmentation and about 30 meters away after he boarded his single motorcycle with a companion-driver, gunman aboard shot Behing dead.


In October 2009, seven DENR-Caraga personnel were abducted by armed men at DENR-LGU checkpoint in Barangay Anticala, Butuan City which is within CADT 093 ancestral area. Abducted DENR men were later released after two days of negotiations headed by the church, local officials, military and the police. 


The abduction, according to police report, was caused by forest resources infighting among the tribes engaged in Community-Based Forest Management Agreement with the DENR. Allegedly Datu Julius Mabandos had engaged some animosities with some DENR personnel over conflict of ancestral rights and DENR laws.


            According to Catuburan, after the twin killings and the abduction, intense animosities that resulted to sometime armed conflict between two warring clans ensued that resulted to wounding, hurting of many others and unrecorded deaths.


Scalawag Military and PNP backed by politicians, illegal loggers who had interest in mining, logging provide arms, ammunitions to tribes?


            Rumors and reliable sources who intensely monitoring activities and situation of the tribes all over Caraga region said problem hounding the Mabandos-Behing clans were similar problems hounding indigenous people all over the Caraga, today’s mining capital in Asia.


            Caraga region is also being touted as the “Timber Capital” of the Philippines but environmentalist groups claimed that with onslaught of 108 mining and logging firms all over Caraga region not including those who engaged in small-scale mining, Caraga is “timber-capital no more”.


            Sources suspected some scalawag military and police personnel backed up by illegal loggers and miners some of them were rich traders financing logging and mining activities were the ones providing firearms and ammunitions.


            Other sources of firearms were allegedly coming from individual cops and soldiers gone AWOL while some firearms and ammunitions sneaked in from Danao in Cebu allegedly entered the region from seaports like Lipata Port in Surigao and few others.


            Reliable sources claimed because Caraga region is richly endowed by natural and forest resources, “Divide and Rule Tactics” among tribal groups has always been the “game plan” to gain solid control over resources richly found in ancestral lands.


            The sources continued, “And because government institutions who are supposed to regulate logging and mining activities including small-scale mining were allegedly corrupt and weak, the agenda to protect environment and implementation of correct mining and logging methodologies had been absolutely sidelined”.


            Environmental groups also blamed “money politics’ further caused degradation of environment in the Caraga region saying corrupted money solicited by politicians from whether legitimate or illegal mining and logging helped fund massive vote buying spree in the region.


            They alleged nearly 75% of Caraga politicians were backed up or financed by logging and mining money.


Behing-Mabandos clans’ Agreement for Peace


            Following Manobo tribal traditions and customs to settle conflict after historic meeting for the first time between warring Mabandos-Behing clans last October 21, 2010 in the presence of Manobo Council of Tribal Council and NCIP officials, finally both clans agreed to formally sign peace pact they schedule November 16 to be held at Sibagat Municipal Gym to be attended by public, government and tribal officials, military and the police.


            The peace agreement in full view of more than one hundred people who witnessed at the Sibagat Gym yesterday was signed by Manobo Tribal chieftains, Datu Julius Mabandos representing Mabandos clan and Datu Crisaldo Behing, son-heir apparent of


            The historic meeting including the formal agreement signing was facilitated by various local and national government agencies particularly the NCIP with the help or assistance from International Labour Organization or ILO Indigenous People’s Development Programme or IPDP-CARAGA.


            Some highlights or content of the eight pages agreement signed were starting November 16, 2010, all 16 Community-based Forest Management Agreements initiated by the DENR were obligated to respect lumad traditions and laws particularly the Indigenous People’s Right Act of IPRA law therefore obligated to provide funds to serve as Trust Funds for community development of the tribes.


            Two, both leaders of Mabandos-Behing Clans will forget all unfortunate violent incidents and claimed said incidents were caused by intrigues and that Julius Mabandos was never responsible in the killings of the two Behing fallen leaders.


            Three, no logging trucks particularly SKW haulers will never be allowed to enter, haul logs inside ancestral lands especially if there are no clear, legitimate local and foreign investors, no proper not recycled DENR permits and transport documents and if there are investors, they must help build roads and provide community development projects to the tribes.


            Fourth, proper delineation of areas owned by clans within ancestral domain must be properly implemented.


            And all conflict, issues that may arise in the future such as claims in the area by another Manobo clans, it is the Manobo tribes through their customs and traditions that will solely solve it. (-30-)