News / 5 March 2013

Both ENDS partner murdered on Philippine tourist island

We are deeply shocked about the murder on Dexter Condez, the 26-year-old leader of the Ati tribe, an indigenous group in the Philippines. He was shot dead Friday night February 22nd on the tourist island of Boracay. While no suspects have been arrested, the police thinks the motive could involve a dispute between de Ati tribe and developers over a piece of land. Our sympathy goes to the family, friends and the people he worked with.

Resort or territory?

The young Condez was the spokesman of the Boracay Ati Tribal Organization (BATO), a group dedicated to the land rights of the Ati tribe on Boracay. The island of Boracay is one of the main tourist destinations of the Philippines and its white sandy beaches have been popular with both tourists and investors. The Ati belong to the original settlers of Boracay, but there are virtually no signs of the indigenous Boracay culture in daily tourist life on the island. Due to the construction of large resorts, the original territory of the Ati tribe has become smaller over the years. Many Ati were forced to leave their lands and look for shelter elsewhere. BATO was founded to stand up for the rights of the indigenous Ati people in Boracay. As a young and inspirational leader, Condez has done much for the Ati community. He was always very eager to share the knowledge he had gained in during training and courses with his tribesmen.


No recognition

According to the local police, Condez was on his way home from a tribal meeting on Friday evening when he was shot. Condez was rushed to the nearest hospital, but died on the way to the hospital due to the multiple gunshots in different parts of his body. The police thinks the motive behind the murder might involve the conflict over a piece of land that has been occupied by the Ati since April 2012. In 2011 the land was allocated to the Ati people by an official certificate of the National Commission of Indigenous People. Notwithstanding, several developers and investors have set their sights on the piece of land.


Cooperation with Both ENDS

Both ENDS has worked with the Ati community in the Non-Timber Forest Produces Exchange Program (NTFB) since 2007. The NFTB program focuses on the land rights of indigenous people in South and Southeast Asia, who are often threatened by deforestation, expropriation and displacement. Also the rich Ati culture and its unique contribution to the Filipino culture, is at risk.  To raise awareness for the indigenous cultures Condez has regularly helped organizing special Food Festivals sponsored by Both ENDS, such as the Dimgo ke Eata Ribo Festival in February 2012. Paul Wolvekamp, chairman of the NTFP program at Both ENDS: ‘Dexter was a very dedicated, intelligent young man who passionately fought for the rights of his tribe and who believed in a better future”.


Struggle for rights continues

Official police investigation has yet to determine whether developers are responsible for the murder of Condez. The sad murder of Ati-leader Condez shows again the tensions between the rights of indigenous people and the interests of investors. The international community is now waiting for the Philippine government to take action to ensure the safety of the Ati and other indigenous tribes and to speed up its process of acknowledging ancestral land claims.

Photo: Dexter Condez by Chaya Ocampo Go

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