By Tara Yap
ILOILO CITY – The National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) has ordered a group to stop illegal treasure hunting in Igbaras town, Iloilo province.
In a letter released Tuesday, NMP Director-General Jeremy Barns directed the group of Noly Bayogos to cease and desist from any treasure hunting activity in Pasong village.
NMP learned that the permit Bayogos had been showing to the public was a falsified document.
NMP found that the Treasure Hunting and Disposition of Recovered Treasure permit bearing CDP-THP-2019-2020 was not for Bayogos’ group. Instead, it was issued to a different person in Carangalan town, Nueva Ecija province.
With this discovery, the NMP deemed the treasure hunting of Bayogos’ group as unauthorized while violating Republic Act No. 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.
The NMP acted on the complaint filed by town Mayor Jaime Esmeralda and Barangay Captain Cornelio Elumba Jr., who earlier sought the help of Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr.
Esmeralda told Manila Bulletin Tuesday that the complaint was merely due to environmental risks of the treasure hunting activity, especially the village had a prior landslide incident.
Bayogos’ group has allegedly been digging at least 60 feet since last year.
“Even if the treasure hunting will be stopped, the other problem is the open pit that has been created,” Esmeralda pointed out.