Other Government Release

We must uphold the law on Ati tribe members’ issue – Estrella

“We must uphold the law relative to the issue of Ati in Boracay,” Agrarian Secretary Conrado M. Estrella III said during a press conference held after the distribution of Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) in Negros Occidental.

He emphasized that there is no basis for awarding the CLOAs to the members of the Boracay Ati Tribal Association.

“First, the Bureau of Soils and Water Management under the Department of Agriculture declared the landholding not suitable for agriculture which should be exempted from DAR coverage under Republic Act 6657, or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program,” Estrella said.

The second reason, Estrella said, is that the period of issuing the notice of coverage of private lands had already expired last June 30, 2014, when the DAR issued the CLOAs to the ATI in 2018.

“Third,  they cannot invoke Executive Order 75 here because it is not even a government-owned land since there is a legitimate claimant. EO 75 is a Malacanang order directing all government agencies to identify government land that could be distributed to qualified beneficiaries,” Estrella added.

He noted that the 44 members of the Boracay Ati Tribal Association preferred the subdivision of the 1,282 square meter property among themselves, so they each own about 30 square meters, meaning the land is not suitable for agriculture.

Estrella said that the DAR will provide government lands to the Ati members through EO 75, by giving them one (1) hectare to three (3) hectares and providing them with all assistance and support services.

“We treat people with compassion, but we must uphold the law,” he ended.