Nat’l Museum stops treasure hunting in Iloilo

The National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) has ordered the treasure hunting in Pasong village, Igbaras town to stop after the permit of the activity was found unauthorized and considered illegal.

In a letter dated Jan. 31, Jeremy Barns, director-general of NMP, ordered treasure hunting permittee Noly Laquihon Bayogos to cease the excavation activities.

The NMP said the permit bearing CPD-THP-2019-20 of Bayogos was issued to certain Leovigilda Uson/Francisco S. Dela Fuente on May 28, 2019, for Sitio Lanod, Barangay Punean, Carangalan, Nueva Ecija.

All your treasure hunting works undertaken in the area under said treasure hunting permit (CPD-THP-2019-20) are deemed unauthorized and considered illegal violating Republic Act 10066, 'The National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009,' and we quote in particular 'All treasure hunting permits and licenses shall be issued by the National Museum of the Philippines,' part of the letter said.

The NMP directed Bayogos to cease and desist from any activity and prohibited to apply for a treasure hunting permit in the future and ordered to "rehabilitate the area."

Igbaras Mayor Jaime Esmeralda, in a phone interview, confirmed that the local government was notified on Tuesday of the decision of the NMP.

The local government unit has recently appealed for the treasure hunting activity to stop as it poses environmental hazards like a landslide and places nine households at risk.

Esmeralda said the extraction of the treasure hunters has so far covered a 1,000-square meter area and law enforcers were banned from entering the treasure hunting area.

We have an advisory that they (NMP) will personally hand in the cease and desist order, Esmeralda said but did not divulge the date for security reasons.

There might be resistance from them that is why we already scheduled for the police and the Army to accompany us for security, he said.

Esmeralda said they will follow the course of the law in ordering the stop of the excavation activities.

If they will appeal, that will be part of the legalities. If they consumed all the remedies to continue the activities and the law says it's illegal, we cannot deny to forcibly make them stop the excavation, he said.

The local government, meanwhile, will also take legal actions against the treasure hunters.

We will file a case because of the psychological stress they left to our locals. We will consult our lawyers for that, Esmeralda said.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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