Council Defers Action on Treasure Hunting Regulation-A A +A
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
THE City Council acted on Monday to return to the Committee on Laws a proposed ordinance seeking to amend Ordinance No. 525 series of 1970 making it unlawful to conduct treasure hunting excavation activities within the city of Baguio.
Calendared as item three in the agenda the said proposed amendatory ordinance authored by City Councilor Joel Alangsab was reported out and recommended by the Committee on Laws to be approved on second reading after publication, however, during the discussion observations made by some councilors convinced the august body to have the matter returned to the committee for further study.
In the proposed ordinance councilor Alangsab sought to amend Section 1 of Ordinance No. 252 , series of 1970 by making it unlawful for treasure hunting excavation activities to be conducted within the territorial limits of Baguio without the needed authority and permit as provided for under Republic Act 10066 and other existing and applicable laws. Under Ordinance No. 252, series of 1970 particularly section 1 thereof, it simply declared that treasure hunting excavation within the territorial limits of Baguio City as unlawful and provided penalties for its violation.
However as explained by councilor Alangsab in his proposed amendatory ordinance recent developments show a trend in regulating such activities both in the national and local level. As examples Alangsab cited in his proposed legislative measure Presidential Decree No. 1726-A issued by former President Ferdinand Marcos providing for the guidelines on Treasure Hunting, Republic Act 9072 entitled "An Act to Manage and Protect caves and Cave Resources and for other purposes," which prohibited treasure hunting or excavations in caves, and Republic Act 10066 otherwise known as the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 which provided for the protection and conservation of the National Cultural Heritage, Strengthening the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and its Affiliated Cultural Agencies and thus regulating all archeological excavation and exploration in the country.
Alangsab likewise mentioned in his proposal that city Mayor Mauricio Domogan recently issued Administrative Order No. 027, series of 2012 reconstituting the Baguio City Anti Treasure-Hunting Task Force and authorizing the same to conduct inspections and monitoring activities, thus the desire of the former to amend the old city ordinance. The city councilor also sought to amend the penalties provided in the old ordinance increasing the fine to 5,000 pesos instead of the previous 200 pesos with the explanation that the latter fine is too low to serve as a penalty and considering economic changes there is a need to increase the amount of fine in order to truly impose a stiff sanction against those who intend to violate the said law.
During discussion proper on the matter, city councilor Peter Fianza pointed out to his colleagues that as per RA 10066 it is the National Museum which is authorized to issue permits for excavation or treasure-hunting permits and that furthermore, the said national law in section 9 thereof provides that "provisions of this Act on explorations and excavations of terrestrial and underwater archaeological sites shall supersede all local, municipal, regional and autonomous regional governments resolutions and ordinances."
In other words as explained by councilor Fianza, it would seem that based on the said law the local government unit concerned has no authority or power to issue permits nor deny such permits when duly issued by the National Museum relative to treasure hunting or excavation activities within a particular local territory in the country.
On the other hand, councilor Alangsab countered that what the national law covers are those explored or excavated materials having historical or cultural value and that the city is not deprived of authority to monitor other types of treasure hunting or excavation activities within its territorial jurisdiction.
Arriving at an impasse, the august body decided to return the matter to the committee concerned with the advice to further study and consider the implications of the said national law as it relates to the proposed amendatory ordinance.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 25, 2013.