Some sad news from the Philippines: the killing of one of our Youth Leaders who is also a member of an Indigenous Tribe called Ati, fighting for their ancestral land.
Below is the letter of our FAMVIN (VFCC) Chairman here in the Philippines:
Dear Members of the Vincentian Family,
May the Grace of God be always with us!
It is with heavy heart that I write to inform you about the ruthless killing of a young fellow lay Vincentian collaborator who was gunned down with 8 bullet shots on his body while he was on his way home from a meeting with the nuns of the Holy Rosary Parish Ati Mission (Facebook)in Boracay Island, Aklan.
Dexter Condes, 26, (see Nov 13 famvin article) was a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and an alumnus of Colegio de San Jose in Jaro, Iloilo. As a spokesman of the Ati Community in Boracay, Condes opposed the unbridled development in his Ati Community in the island where a large portion of which has been awarded to them by the national government. As a youth volunteer, he stood by his community in fighting the harassment and eviction from three other claimants to the property they have inherited from their ancestors.
While law enforcement authorities have initiated investigation, his assassins and the mastermind behind this dastardly act remain at large. Condes left behind not only his family but also, most importantly, the entire Ati community and its quest to regain possession of the land awarded to them.
As members of the Vincentian Family, Condes’ fight to get the land they need to settle down is one of the projects of the local Church of the Diocese of Kalibo, for which the Daughters of Charity had been working for the past 15 years. This project of the Daughters of Charity has been owned and supported by the different branches of the Vincentian Family, particularly in Western Visayas, and from the whole country. What happened last Friday is not only a setback for the Atis but also a setback in the history of the country and of the Church of the Philippines.
I therefore enjoin the whole Vincentian Family in the Philippines in condemning in strongest possible terms this act of cowardice and in praying that justice be served against the perpetrators of this crime. I also request to have this letter published in your international newsletter as a statement of our solidarity with the poor, notably the underprivileged indigenous people.
To the Atis Community in Boracay whom Condes courageously and unselfishly served as well as to his family, rest assured that Dexter Condes’ death was not in vain as we shall relentlessly pursue the work he left behind in the name of charity and justice.
Sincerely Yours in St. Vincent de Paul,
Fr. Francisco M. Vargas, C.M.
Chairman – Vincentian Family Coordinating Council (PH)