MANILA, Oct. 18, 2012—An Indigenous People (IP) group asked the government for help in resolving the issue of their contested ancestral domain in Boracay.
In a press forum on Tuesday, a religious nun from the Daughters of Charity working with the Atis confirmed the IPs’ struggle to re-reclaim their ancestral land.
Sr. Herminia Jutarez, DC, who helps the Ati tribe and other IPs in Boracay said the Atis were awarded the certificate of ancestral domain with 2.1 hectares of land in Boracay by the National Council for Indigenous People (NCIP) yet, they cannot fully occupy the land because of other claimants opposing them.
“The writ of possession is not yet given to the Atis. As of now, we are currently waiting for an order from the government that will make the title strong so that they can fully occupy the land. For safety purposes, some of them are already occupying a part of the land,” Jutarez said.
When asked who the claimants were, the nun said they are mostly foreign and local investors.
“The land is very important in the lives of our native [people] because it is rooted within their culture, life and living. If we take it away from them, they will lose their sense of culture,” she furthered.
Delsa Justo, the tribal chieftain of the Boracay Ati said to reporters that without the help of the Catholic nuns, they would not know where to go and what to do.
“We were the first settlers in Boracay but we are treated as squatters. They wanted as out of the island,” Justo said in Filipino.
Justo mentioned that currently, there are 45 Ati families leaving within a part of the ancestral domain because many tribe members surrendered on their cause.
In a separate video interview by CBCPNews Reporter Yen Ocampo, Justo expressed her desire to address their problem to the president and concerned government agencies.
“NCIP awarded us the title for the ancestral domain but yet, we cannot move freely on the land given to us because of people who are contesting the land given to our tribe,” Justo said.
She hopes that the president or any government official would visit their place to see their condition so they can render some help to the IPs in Boracay. (Jandel Posion)