Bishop seeks justice for killed Ati leader

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MANILA, Feb. 25, 2013—A Catholic bishop has denounced the killing of a tribal leader in Boracay and urged government to act swiftly and bring perpetrators to justice.

Chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples and Tuguegarao Archbishop Sergio L. Utleg denounced the killing of Dexter Condez, 26, and urged that justice be given on the slain Ati leader. 

“We condemn in the strongest possible manner this brutal killing and we are calling for an immediate and thorough investigation to identify the perpetuator and the masterminds,” Utleg said in a statement.

Condez was shot dead on evening of February 22 by an unidentified gunman while on his way home to the Atis’ ancestral domain in Barangay Manoc-manoc after attending a meeting.

Utleg urged the Aquino administration to take all possible means to solve the case of Condez and other victims of extra judicial killings.

“The Ati people of Boracay together with the Ati Mission of Sto. Rosario Parish and the Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous Peoples’ Apostolate are yelling for JUSTICE!,” Utleg declared.

Condez was the spokesperson of the Ati people against those who oppose their ancestral domain claims.  A partner-member of the Ati Mission of Sto. Rosario Parish, he also taught Indigenous Peoples Education among Ati children.

Rightful owners

On August 3, 2010the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) en banc has issued a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) RO6-MAL-0610-157 for the Ati community which was later registered with the Land Registration Authority (LRA).

On April 17, 2012, members of Boracay Ati Tribal Organization (BATO) installed themselves in the 2.1-hectare CADT lot in  Barangay Manoc-manoc 

But even with government-issued CADT and assistance from legitimate government agencies, several interest groups and clans insisted that the Ati people are not the owners of the said land.

“Threats and intimidations against the Ati occurred several times since they lawfully occupied their land. There will be no peace for the Ati people of Boracay until the issue of their ancestral domain is fully resolved and justice is done for their fallen leader. We pray for Dexter and his family!  We pray and seek justice for all victims of extra judicial killings!” Utleg furthered.

Moreover, earlier report cited that the Boracay Atis were worried about their fate in Boracay, which was originally their home, but were displaced starting in the 1970s when tourists and investors started to descend on the island.

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) said it was doing all it could to help the Atis but the bishop said the case must be settled because the indigenous people have long been struggling.

Religious organizations helping the Atis lamented an earlier incident when a group of 20 armed men who were allegedly employees of Crown Regency Boracay destroyed parts of a perimeter fence of the Ati community on November 4, 2012.

Armed with shotguns and handguns, the security guards reportedly entered the area forcibly and threatened the IPs.

During this incident, Dexter Condez condemned the “attack”, adding that the children in their community got terrified.

“We ask them to fight fairly and not through intimidation and firearms. We will continue this fight and we will not surrender,” Condez was quoted as saying.

The CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace earlier also called on the government not to forget that “before the onset of these enterprises were the tribes people”.

“Boracay should be beautiful not only for its beaches but most of all because of its people that respect and promote the rights of the marginalized and the minorities,” said Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Nassa chairman. (Yen Ocampo )


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