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Philippines

Tribals occupy ‘promised land’

Settlers on guard fearing backlash from rival claimants

Jun Aguirre, Boracay

Jun Aguirre, Boracay

Updated: April 17, 2012 09:58 AM GMT
Tribals occupy ‘promised land’

Frustrated members of a tribal community on Boracay Island today seized a piece of land promised to them by the government. Father Maglore Placer of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary said the Aeta tribal people took the land awarded to them by the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) after growing impatient with legal claims from businessmen that were delaying the handover. He said that while the takeover was peaceful, the parish, together with the Aetas people and nuns from the Daughters of Charity, will remain vigilant over the next 48 hours in case of a backlash from the rival claimants. “We are not sure what the opposition is planning. So everyone is on their guard,” said Fr Placer. Around 45 families from the Boracay Aeta Tribal Organization (BATO) left their homes in Balabag village and occupied the site early this morning, Fr Placer said. In January last year, the NCIP gave them a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title for 2.1 hectares of land but were not allowed to build homes because of continuing legal disputes with several businessmen. Delia Justo, the BATO head said they decided to seize the land because they feared illegal settlers would grab the site.    
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