Jane B. Cadalig
The treasure hunter who intends to dig the fortune that is supposedly deposited within the vicinity of the Baguio Convention Center and University of Baguio will have to face the city council even if his team has secured a permit from the National Museum.
More than satisfying the councilors’ curiosity, the legislative body invited treasure hunter Eliseo Cabusao and his team to attend the council session to explain his plan and to be abreast of the city’s Environment Code.
Councilor Elmer Datuin said the city council has no jurisdiction over Cabusao’s plan because the issuance of permits for treasure hunting is a mandate of the National Museum.
Councilor Faustino Olowan, however, said the digging that will take place is a concern of the city government, especially since the Environment Code that was passed last year prohibits treasure hunting.
Datuin said the city’s Environment Code cannot supersede a national law.
“The National Museum has taken cognizance of the requirements that is why it issued the permit. The local government will only have to issue the fencing permit and provide security,” Datuin said.
Olowan said the move is only an invitation for Cabusao to explain his plan.
Vice Mayor Edison Bilog said Cabusao’s plan, if approved without the council being guided properly, might set a precedent as other individuals or groups might also seek exemption from the council to dig in various parts of the city in the guise of treasure hunting.
Cabusao earlier wrote the city council, seeking exemption from the coverage of the Environment Code, which prohibits treasure hunting because of excavations that could threaten soil stability.
Cabusao was issued a Treasure Hunting and Disposition of Recovered Treasures Permit from the National Museum. Under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 1999, the National Museum, through its Legal Department regulates excavation in cultural properties.