Ati tribesmen get ‘writ of possession’ over Boracay land

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09:25 PM April 26th, 2012

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April 26th, 2012 09:25 PM

KALIBO, Aklan, Philippines—The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has issued a writ of possession for the Ati tribe on Boracay over their ancestral land on the well-known resort island.

The writ, which formally installs legitimate owners of a property, was signed Wednesday afternoon by the seven-member commission led by its chair Zenaida Brigada Hamada-Pawid, according to Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, chair of the House committee on national cultural communities.

“(The writ) legalizes the installation of the tribe on their ancestral land,” Baguilat told the Inquirer in a telephone interview on Thursday.

Since April 17, the Ati tribe has been occupying part  of a 2.1-hectare property in Barangay Manoc-Manoc covered by a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) issued by the NCIP earlier. The NCIP turned over the CADT on Jan. 21, 2011 but did not issue the writ until Thursday, amid counter-claims by at least three property claimants.

The CADT was issued 12 years after the Ati tribe first filed a petition to claim the land on Feb. 23, 2000.

The writ ordered the other property claimants to stop putting up structures in the area covered by the CADT, Baguilat said.

But in an earlier interview with the Inquirer, Dionesia Banua, NCIP Commissioner for Island Group and the Visayas, said the writ could be enforced 15 days after the parties have received a copy of the order.

Property claimant Rudi Banico had questioned the legality of the occupation of the property of the Ati tribe, citing a pending petition for injunction he filed in the Kalibo Regional Trial Court.

But the Ati tribe said they had occupied the land covered by the CADT because the claimants had erected structures and subjected parts of the area to quarrying.

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo earlier said the Ati  would not be removed from the area they occupied as long as no other structures would be erected.

Baguilat, who brought a copy of the order to the tribe on Boracay on Thursday, said the government should have the political will to implement the order through its various agencies.

“This has taken a long time to implement and for the writ to come out,” he said.

He said the delay in the CADT approval and the turnover of the property to the Boracay Ati reflected the situation of indigenous communities in the country.

“This case drew a lot of attention but many IP communities remain marginalized and do not even have a CADT for their ancestral lands,” Baguilat said.

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