Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo is expected to issue a cease-and-desist order against all forms of excavations that have no permits.
This is in response to reports reaching his office and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council that illegal treasure huntings are going on in various municipalities of the province.
Degamo said treasure hunting requires a permit from the National Museum. He said He believes that soil testing should also be required before the permits are issued, learning from the experience in Boloc-boloc, Sibulan, when three reported treasure hunters were buried alive last week when the tunnel collapsed because the soil is sandy, Degamo said.
The fatalities were identified as Algie Javier of Isugan, Bacong, whose body was retrieved Jan. 3, and Bobby Baldado of Palimpinon, Valencia, and Feliciano Encilay Sr., 62, of Poblacion 8, whose cadavers were recovered Friday.
Their fourth companion, Mauro Alforque, 44, of Aldea Homes in Dumaguete, was rescued Wednesday.
As an offshoot to the tragedy, concerned citizens have responded to calls to report illegal treasure hunting activities in Negros Occidental.
Late Friday evening, just as the body of Encilay was retrieved, residents in two puroks in Barangay Junob, Dumaguete, went to their barangay captain, Maximino Umbac Jr., to report ongoing treasure hunting activities in puroks Kasadya and Lonoy.
On Saturday morning, a team from the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office, led by Efren Rumbaoa, enforcer Onie Babiera, and baragnay officials headed by Umbac, conducted an ocular inspection and found out that the reports were true.
The diggings were underway in the property of Lilibeth Torres of Purok Lonoy and of Arnold Ragay at Purok Kasadya, situated along the Balugo-Dumaguete road.
Initial investigation showed the digging activity in Kasadya has been on and off for two years, already, while in Lonoy, the treasure hunting started a month ago. Both owners claimed the diggings were for deep wells, and measured 30 feet already.
Umbac said it is possible that the diggings in Purok Kasadya also traversed one property to another because the target is the “Tipolo” tree that is situated adjacent to the barangay road.
The owners were told to stop the digging activities and secure permits from concerned agencies.*
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