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Mayor shuts road to blunt drug trade

Sadanga, Mountain Province – Mayor Gabino P. Ganggangan here has issued an executive order prohibiting the use of a Sadanga municipal road section as route for all tourists visiting the neighboring municipality of Tinglayan in Kalinga Province, especially Barangay Buscalan, where acclaimed tattoo artist Wang-ud lives.

Mayor Gabino P. Ganggangan
Executive Order No. 18, series of 2020 was premised on the long-standing notoriety of the route in the local marijuana drug trade via the Halsema Highway going to Baguio City.

“Such ominous purpose proved itself true as evidenced by several arrests of a few but steadily growing numbers of tourists in possession of illegal marijuana bought from Buscalan,” the order reads.

Ganggangan pointed out historical and current circumstances justifying his executive order, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated the importance of his war on drugs in his fifth State of the Nation Address.

“In the mid-1990s, tourists and marijuana local traders accompanied by some local folks from the Municipality of Tinglayan used the mountain ranges passing through some parts of Belwang, Sadanga as their trans-shipment route to transport raw marijuana leaves from the plantations in Tinglayan to Sagada as its trading post,” the mayor explained.

The arrest of several individuals caught transporting illegal marijuana resulted in the Tulgao-Sadanga Tribal War.

“Those who were accosted retaliated by surreptitiously entering Sadanga and mercilessly hacked one unsuspecting Sadanga old folk,” he added.

The order also cited that Sadanga LGU wants to check the proliferation of illegal firearms in the area, the order cited.

“Whereas, as a necessary measure, this executive order is also being issued to prevent unscrupulous tourists in bringing and selling firearms and ammunitions to both tribes, lending more firepower and (avoiding a) full-blown tribal war.”

Ganggangan also lamented that his town’s name has been tarnished by the flourishing marijuana plantation in areas near Saclit, Sadanga, wherein the cultivators are from the neighboring Butbut tribes of Tinglayan.

“Expectedly, conflict between Butbut and Saclit tribes erupted, leading to the infamously assertive relocation of the tribal boundary between Saclit and Butbut to include the plantation areas to the side of Butbut,” he said.

The same conflict erupted between Bugnay of Tinglayan and Betwagan of Sadanga in 2001. The mayor said some folks from Bugnay cultivated and planted marijuana within the areas of Betwagan. When the Betwagan folks accosted the Bugnay people, they started questioning the legality of the former’s jurisdiction over the area in question.

“Again, such provocation led the two tribes into tribal war costing them lives along the way. Cessation of hostility was temporarily put in place after a series of negotiations and government intercessions but only to be triggered again just recently as a result of the continuous planting of marijuana and non-recognition of the age-old boundary set by and between Macliing Dulag representing Bugnay and counterpart representing Betwagan tribe,” Ganggangan’s order explained in detail.

The present hostilities between and among the tribes of Betwagan of Sadanga and Bugnay of Tinglayan also makes it dangerous for tourists to use the route.

“The Municipal Government of Sadanga cannot guarantee any safe passage by any local or international tourists taking the route,” the order proclaimed.

The order prohibits all tourists bound for Tinglayan, especially Buscalan, from taking the route covering the road sections within the municipality of Sadanga.

“As an alternate route, it is informed and directed that all tourists visiting Tattoo Artist Wang-ud shall pass through Tabuk City thence to Buscalan or to other barangays of Tinglayan Municipality and vice versa,” the order said.

Tourists trying to pass through the territorial jurisdiction of Sadanga bound to or from Buscalan shall be denied entry at the Ampawilen Checkpoint and sent back to place of origin.

“We salute Mayor Ganggangan for his courage in dealing with this perennial illegal drug menace. He is truly a good soldier by acting immediately on the president’s challenge. It only means that our world does not stop just because of this pandemic,” says Daisy Lee, a regional coordinator of President Duterte’s support group MRRD-NECC. 

Lee hails from La Trinidad, Benguet. 

Topics: Gabino Ganggangan , Rodrigo Duterte , drug trade , Tulgao-Sadanga Tribal War , State of the Nation Address , Wang-ud
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