Philippines: Priests negotiate surrender, baptism of homicide suspect

Posted Jun 9, 2015

[Episcopal Church in the Philippines] On May 28, 2015, Filipino Episcopal priests,  Lito Awakan, Leo Basing-at and Pablo Buyagan of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines, together with members of the Movement for the Advancement of Tribal Unity and Development (MAITUD),  effected the surrender of a suspect in the killing of a 13-year old boy from Bontoc, Mountain Province, which has caused tribal tension between the peoples of Bontoc and Tinglayan, Kalinga, the suspect’s hometown. Both towns are in the Cordillera mountains of Northern Philippines, whose tribes have a history of engagement in violent tribal wars. Prior to the surrender, the suspected assailant, Zaldy Alinong Dalog, confessed to the crime and requested that he be first baptized.

The victim, Bryden Faniswa, Crisostomo, was killed on April 10, 2015 in Bontoc ili and Dalog [no connection to Mountain Province incumbent Congressman Maximo B. Dalog, Sr.) emerged as the prime suspect. The latter, who went into hiding, is a native of Basao, Tinglayan where the Diocese has recently opened mission work. Owing to the slow progress in the suspect’s arrest, the officials of various barangays of Bontoc set up a check-point on May 3, 2015 at the entrance to the town, preventing the entry of all vehicles and passengers from Tinglayan purposely to pressure the officials and people of the said Kalinga municipality to surrender the suspect.  The Bontoc officials publicly declared that no revenge nor violent action will be committed against the suspect, his family and tribe as had been the tribal practice in the past but strongly demanded that the said suspect be immediately subjected to the country’s criminal justice system.  Feeling the adverse effect of the checkpoint, the Tinglayan officials and travelers complained that it was unfair to include other barangays and people who had no involvement in the killing. A subsequent dialogue between the tribes involved ensued resulting in an agreement that the checkpoint will be suspended until May 20 to give time for the Tinglayan officials to effect the surrender of the suspect.  This was extended for five days from May 19 when no surrender nor arrest was yet made.

In an earlier dialogue between the Bontoc and Tinglayan officials, the Episcopal priests suggested a pastoral approach in effecting the surrender but this was not appreciated by most participants. Despite the negative reactions, the  Rt. Rev. Brent H.W. Alawas, EDNP Bishop, directed that pastoral initiatives be pursued. The Diocese then approached MAITUD members and several meetings, including one with the family of the suspect, followed.  On May 27,  the group went back to Basao and held a meeting with the community  lasting up to almostmidnight.

Early the next day, the group was invited to have breakfast at the suspect’s house and met the latter for the first time. The suspect approached The Rev. Basing-at whom he has met some years ago and confessed to the crime. He then expressed a desire to be baptized. Also, his siblings Dennis and Julie expressed a similar desire. The family and the rest of the community then walked to St. Theodore’s Episcopal Church where its vicar, The Rev. Awakan, officiated the baptism in a Eucharistic celebration. Thereafter, the group, together with the suspect and his family and other relatives proceeded to Tinglayan municipality where he was turned over to the police.


Comments (1)

  1. This is a fascinating story. Our Diocese, the Diocese of New Westminster, has initiated a Companion Diocese relationship with the Episcopal Diocese of the Northern Philippines. The Parish of Saint Theodore of Tarsus has been named as the ‘partner parish’ of my parish, the Parish of Saint Faith’s in Vancouver. I’m looking forward to getting to know my colleagues and their parish better.

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