Ati tribe: SC ruling on land ownership is 'heaven sent'

(Contributed Photo)

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