ILOILO CITY—Members of the Ati tribe on Boracay Island on Friday marked the first month of the killing of their spokesperson with a prayer-march to demand the fast-tracking of the resolution of the murder.
At least 350 members of the Boracay Ati Tribal Organization (Bato) and their supporters marched from their community in Barangay Manoc-Manoc to the Holy Rosary Parish Church in Barangay Balabag where a program was held.
Various speakers demanded justice for Bato spokesperson Dexter Condez who was gunned down by a lone assailant on Feb. 22 as he was walking home with two other tribe leaders from a meeting.
The tribe members were joined by business owners belonging to the Boracay Foundation Inc. (BFI).
The BFI had passed a resolution condemning the killing and urging the government to identify and arrest all those
Fr. Arnaldo Crisostomo, Boracay parish priest, said they were concerned with the slow pace of the murder case.
“Dexter shed blood and sacrificed his life for his tribe. We do not want his death to be in vain,” Crisostomo told the Inquirer in a telephone interview on Sunday.
Police last month filed a murder case against Daniel Celestino and two other unidentified suspects.
Celestino is a security guard of the Crown Regency Boracay Resorts hotel chain which is owned by the Cebu-based property developer J. King & Sons Co. Inc. The company is among the claimants with ownership and boundary disputes with the tribe.
But the complaint is still pending before the Aklan provincial prosecutor’s office. Celestino was supposed to submit his counteraffidavit by March 20 but the prosecutor’s office granted Celestino’s petition to be granted an extension until April 3.
Celestino and the property developer have denied involvement in the killing of Condez.
“We find the progress of the case slow. The longer it takes, the harder it will be to find justice,” Crisostomo said.
Senior Inspector Joeffer Cabural, chief of the Boracay Tourist Assistance Center, the island’s police force, said their investigation has focused on the land dispute as the motive of the killing.
Several claimants are contesting ownership over the 2.1-hectare beach front property that was awarded to the tribe by the government in 2011 through a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT).
The tribe occupied parts of the land on April 17 last year but there have been several confrontations with claimants over boundary and ownership disputes.