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‘Treasure hunt’ in Argao school draws inquiry

First Posted 10:21:00 08/27/2009

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A team will be sent next week excavations beside a school allegedly made in search of buried treasure in Argao.

Archeologist and provincial heritage consultant Jose Eleazar Bersales said the committee on sites, relics and structures of the Cebu Provincial Tourism and Heritage Council will investigate reports of alleged illegal excavations at the Argao Central Elementary School.

Meanwhile, Acting Regional Director Roger de Dios of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Central Visayas (MGB-7) said said he has not heard of the Argao school excavations which are done at night.

?We have not received any application for treasure hunting from Argao,? he told CEBU DAILY NEWS.

According to reports received by Bersales, the school's principal reportedly cleaned up seven old and unused septic tanks to cover up the excavations.

Caches of World War II vintage Japanese guns and ammunition were said to be carted away on expensive sports utility vehicles (SUVs) early in the morning.

The school official denied any knowledge of the excavations.

The committee on sites, relics and structures will send the team following a request from Argao Mayor Edsel Galeos through Councilor Vip Semilla for a joint inquiry and ocular inspection of the site next week.

Treasure hunting permits are issued based on an administrative order from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The order covers regulations governing the issuance of permits for treasure hunting, shipwreck/sunken vessel recovery and disposition of recovered treasures/valuable cargoes, including hoarded hidden treasures.

Qualified applicants must be a Filipino citizen, of legal age, with the capacity to enter into contract and capable of conducting Treasure Hunting or Shipwreck/Sunken Vessel Recovery activities.

Partnerships, associations or corporations applying for the same permit must be organized or authorized for treasure hunting or shipwreck/sunken vessel recovery, duly registered in accordance with law.

Treasure hunters are also expected to possess technical and financial capability to undertake treasure hunting or shipwreck/sunken vessel recovery activities.

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