Ati tribe: SC rul­ing on land own­er­ship is ‘heaven sent’

Sun Star Bacolod - - Top Stories -

THE Bo­ra­cay Ati Tribal Or­ga­ni­za­tion (Bato) has ex­pressed re­lief af­ter the Supreme Court (SC) de­ci­sion that af­firmed its an­ces­tral claim of a 25,310-squareme­ter land in Bo­ra­cay Is­land.

Delsa Justo, Bato chief­tain, said in an in­ter­view Thurs­day af­ter­noon, Au­gust 29, that they are still wait­ing for their lawyer in Metro Manila to come over and ex­plain to them fully the SC de­ci­sion.

In a seven-page res­o­lu­tion dated June 10, 2019 and re­leased only on Au­gust 28, the SC’S First Di­vi­sion de­nied the pe­ti­tion for re­view of the award­ing of the land to the Ati tribal com­mu­nity be­cause of wrong pro­ce­dure.

“We fought for it for seven years. We, Atis, which is known to use only slip­pers in our trav­els have to buy a cheap pair of shoes just to be able to at­tend court hear­ings. In one oc­ca­sion, I had to plead to the court for me to al­low the use of slip­per in­side the court­room be­cause my shoes were dam­aged by the rain,” said Justo.

Pri­vate claimants Gre­go­rio San­son and wife Maria Lour­des were the ones who ques­tioned the le­gal­ity of the Atis’ an­ces­tral do­main lo­cated in Barangay Manoc-manoc in Bo­ra­cay.

The Na­tional Com­mis­sion on In­dige­nous Peo­ples awarded the land to the Atis un­der Res­o­lu­tion 154-2010 AD dated Au­gust 3, 2010.

In Novem­ber 2018, Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte gave cer­tifi­cates of land own­er­ship in six packet ar­eas of Bo­ra­cay.

With the SC de­ci­sion, Justo said their only re­main­ing wish for now is “that we hope that the killing of our col­league Dexter Con­dez would soon at­tain jus­tice.”

Con­dez, who served as spokesman of Bato, was shot to death by uniden­ti­fied per­pe­tra­tors on Fe­bru­ary 2, 2013. Af­ter sev­eral months of in­ves­ti­ga­tion by po­lice, a se­cu­rity guard was ar­rested.

The se­cu­rity guard was said to have been as­signed in one of the re­sorts that have in­ter­est over the Atis land.

The sus­pect is still in prison in Kal­ibo, said Justo./sun­star Philip­pines

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