Catholic bishops on Friday have called on the Philippine authorities to “honor and respect” the land titles awarded to the Indigenous Peoples in Boracay Island.
The Commission on Indigenous Peoples of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said the Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) given to the Ati people is “just”.
Bishop Jose Corazon Tala-oc of Kalibo, the commission’s bishop-in-charge in the Visayas region, said the titles are the “result of the government program aiming to alleviate the poverty of marginalized sectors, particularly the Indigenous Peoples.”
“We uphold that the Atis are the legitimate owner of these CLOAs. Several members of Ati community are currently tilling the land awarded to them, while producing agricultural crops that are source of their sustenance and livelihood,” said the prelate.
The call was particularly addressed to the country’s agrarian reform department and private developers in Boracay.
“We hope the previous predicament faced by the Boracay Atis pertaining to their land will not happen again,” said Tala-oc.
The IPs who are agrarian reform beneficiaries face the risk of losing their lands awarded to them during the Duterte administration over claims for being “unsuitable” for agriculture.