A photo of a white sand beach in Boracay, Philippines A photo of a white sand beach in Boracay, Philippines 

Filipino Bishops to developers: respect Atis of Boracay

The Philippines’ Catholic bishops appealed to the government and private developers to respect the indigenous group living in Boracay Island.

By Zeus Legaspi

The Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples (ECIP) has urged the Philippine government and private developers in Boracay Island to honor and respect the land titles granted to the Indigenous Ati tribe residing in the area.

In 2018, the government awarded the tribe with land titles that the ECIP considers "just" and part of a poverty-alleviation program for Indigenous Peoples. Kalibo Bishop Jose Corazon Tala-oc said, "We uphold that the Atis are the legitimate owners of these CLOAs."

Despite being agrarian reform beneficiaries, the Ati people now face the risk of losing their lands due to claims that the lands are "unsuitable" for agriculture. Bishop Tala-oc appealed to the Department of Agrarian Reform, emphasizing that the Indigenous group has long benefited from cultivating the land.

"Several members of the Ati community are currently tilling the land awarded to them, while producing agricultural crops that are a source of their sustenance and livelihood," the bishop said.

"The Boracay Atis are crying for justice, and we stand with them," he said.

Boracay Island, renowned for its white sand beaches and natural beauty, is a popular tourist destination in the Philippines.

The development of tourism and rapid construction have posed challenges for the Ati tribes, the island's original inhabitants.

In recent years, the Ati people have faced land deprivation and have started to leave their ancestral lands. In an effort to prevent their displacement, the Philippine government issued them land titles for 3.2 hectares, equivalent to approximately 1% of the island's total area in 2018. However, these land titles are now being contested due to new construction projects.

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08 June 2023, 12:52