Killing of Ati tribal leader condemned

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Evangeline Tambuon wept as she spoke after communion during an early morning Mass at Holy Rosary Parish Church on Boracay Island on Sunday.

“Please help us find justice for Dexter,” Tambuon, a member of the Boracay Ati Tribal Organization (Bato), appealed to some 200 churchgoers who came for the 6:30 a.m. Mass officiated by Fr. Arnaldo Crisostomo, Boracay parish priest.

Dexter Condez, Bato spokesperson, was shot several times by an unidentified killer as he and two other Ati tribal leaders were walking home to Barangay Manoc-Manoc in Boracay last week.

Senior Insp. Joeffer Cabural, chief of the Boracay Tourist Assistance Center, the island’s police force, said a suspect had already been identified but police have yet to determine the motive.

“The only reason that we can think of on why Dexter was murdered is because of his determination to struggle for their ancestral land,” Crisostomo said in his homily.

The killing has shocked the 200 Ati members and supporters on the island. “[It]… only demonstrates the failure of the government to protect poor indigenous people who only hoped to finally claim their ancestral land and live a peaceful life in the countryside,” the nongovernment group Katarungan said in a statement.

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