Legarda Denounces Killing of Ati Leader, Harassment of Environmentalist

February 25, 2013

Senator Loren Legarda today denounced the killing of a tribal community leader and the harassment of an environmental group as she urged police authorities to be more proactive and aggressive in identifying and arresting the culprits.

Legarda likewise called for visible police protection for indigenous and environmental groups, particularly their leaders, that are presently fighting for their rights and those of their communities.

“These incidents are causing apprehension to marginalized and advocacy groups and may have bearing on their struggle and aspirations for a better life,” she said.

She added that police investigators should not only look for the perpetrators of the crimes but should dig deeper and determine their motives. The authorities would be able to prevent similar incidents in the future by being proactive, she said.

Legarda added: “Halatang pananakot ito sa mga indigenous communities at sa mga lumalaban sa paglapastangan ng ating kapaligiran.”

The Senator is especially concerned over the killing of the tribal community leader, being at the forefront in promoting and preserving the culture of indigenous communities as Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities.

Legarda is likewise a leading environmental advocate, shepherding the passage of environmental laws and policies and pushing for initiatives to protect the environment.

News reports said Dexter Condez, community organizer of the Boracay Ati Tribal Organization (BATO), was on his way home when he was shot with a 9-mm pistol in Sitio Lugutan, Barangay Manoc-Manoc in Boracay.

Before the killing, at least 20 armed men stormed the tribal group’s community and harassed the villagers, apparently in connection with the award to 40 families belonging to the BATO of a Certificate of Ancestral Domain by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples. Several businessmen have reportedly questioned the legality of the granting of the certificate to these families.

In another incident, several armed men barged into the home of Dr. Isidro Olan in Carmen, Surigao del Sur, tied him and other family members up and ransacked the place.

Olan, Founding President and Executive Director of the Lovers of Nature Foundation, has been vocal against mining and logging activities in the towns of Carrascal, Cantilan, Madrid, Carmen, and Lanuza.