Treasure hunters beware! No more cave exploring in search of lost treasures without a permit, so says the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources!
DENR requires treasure hunters to get permits
The Philippine Inquirer, 19 December 2007
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has issued an administrative order requiring treasure hunters to secure a permit before digging in caves across the country.
Administrative Order No. 2007-34 was aimed at conserving, protecting and managing the flora and fauna in the caves from destructive treasure hunting, Environment Secretary Lito Atienza said.
On one hand, it’s quite gratifying to see that some Southeast Asian countries actually have laws to protect archaeological ‘treasure’, but I find it a little strange that the law comes under the department of environment, and is only limited to caves – in fact, the law looks like it’s designed to protect flora and fauna in caves.
But the National Museum also gets a say in the finds:
Once hidden treasures are dug up, the National Museum will be called to assess whether these are of cultural and historical value. If they have such a value, they will be turned over to the Museum.
Otherwise, they will be turned over to the Oversight Committee for Treasure Hunting.
You can read more about the administrative order here. It’s a step in the right direction, I guess, but in the long run I wonder if there’s some sort of overarching protection for archaeological treasures in the Philippines, rather than piecemeal bylaws.