ILOCOS NORTE - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Office in Ilocos Norte has stopped the operation of alleged illegal treasure hunting in Barangay Masintoc, Paoay.
According to Oliver Cadang, Development Management Officer III of DENR, the treasure hunters had a permit from the local government in Paoay issued by the National Museum and named under Asuncion Mariano of Cavite, but what prompted them to stop the operation were irregularities.
Upon verification, they learned that the lot is part of a geological monument and not classified as private land as claimed by the hunters.
"Under geological monument ito, ibig sabihin timberland ito at public land. Sa batas, hindi pinapayagang mag treasure hunting pag public land sa mga private land lang dapat," Cadang said.
(This land is part of a geological monument which means this is timberland and public land. Under the law, treasure hunting is not permitted in public lands, only in private lands.)
The team found four holes approximately 2 by 2 diameters each and approximately 30 to 40 meters deep, and one cave with a horizontal tunnel.
Cadang added that the operation was not normal.
"Kala namin normal digging lang eh hindi pala.. large-scale operation na ito eh," Cadang said.
(We thought it was just normal digging but it turns out that this is a large-scale operation)
The DENR and PNP-Paoay confiscated equipment like big generators, compressor, and some digging materials.
Jimmy Manaoes, who introduced himself as the electronics operator of the group, said they are willing to cooperate with the authorities.
He claimed that they have documents proving that the lot is a privately owned by a certain Paulino Langaman, father of Ferdinand, who allegedly sought help to look for treasure.
Charges of illegal occupancy and destruction of natural resources will be filed against the suspects.