Gold hunting approved at convention center

THE lure of the Yamashita treasure continues to this day.

Eliseo Cabusao Jr. is asking the local government to allow him to dig at the the Baguio Convention Center to amass truckloads of gold bars believed to be part of loot left by Japanese soldiers during World War II.

Cabusao wrote the local government through Vice Mayor Edison Bilog for permission to be exempted from a City law prohibiting treasure hunting after being given a go signal by the National Museum to look for treasure signed by director Jeremy Barns in a “Treasure Hunting and Disposition of Recovered Treasures” permit.

“When I sought the permit, I was not aware of the prohibition, otherwise I would have sought first an exemption consideration from the city government,” Cabusao said.

The letter was submitted November 29 assuring there will be minimal ground disturbance if extraction is approved and pledges. “Considering the benefits of a potential success may bring about to direct and indirect beneficiaries on our side, to the national government which gets 50% share, to the city for whatever share it may be due, to the country’s reserves once the BSP appropriates the gold and to the communities which may be impacted 30% of our share which we shall allocate for humanitarian and development projects through our Foundation, we thus request exemption.”

For more than 70 years, treasure hunters are still searching for the elusive Yamashita treasure.

Rumored to be hidden somewhere in the Cordilleras, the DENR has recommended Cease and Desist Orders (CDO’s) to illegal treasure hunters.
Cabusao said information of the buried gold was shared by a 90-year old Baguio Born Half Japanese man who has been a US resident since the mid 70’s who pointed to him the alleged location of the treasures in the presence of “our respective families in his house in the city – the location of truckloads of gold bars he and the Japanese soldiers in their teens deposited inside a tunnel somewhere in the vicinity of the now Baguio Convention Center.”

“We have explored and detected around the convention center using different detecting tools and equipment and all converged on a small grassy area five meters from the concrete sidewalk toward the UP ladies dormitory,” Cabusao said.

Cabusao has submitted his retrieval plan approved by National Museum with an Environmental and Technical Program attached.

The permit given by the National Museum is in accordance with the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 which requires Cabusao to post a performance bond in the amount P 250,000 provided he conform to laws, rules and regulations regarding, among others, environmental protection including rehabilitation and remediation, labor, safety and health standards and the restoration of the to its original state as per submitted and approved Environmental Work and Programs.

It took Cabusao a month to acquire permits from the National Museum which has inspected the Baguio Convention Center area several times.

The National Museum also dictates the permit holder the operation should be confined within the day shift only; and comply with any additional terms and conditions which the director may impose or requirements the National Museum may prescribe.

Cabusao was given the permit in October and will last for a year.

In 2005, The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the DENR has identified at least 14 illegal treasure mongers looking for hidden wealth in the city and neighboring Benguet province.

Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Supreme Commander of the Japanese Imperial Army in the Philippines surrendered to the Americans on September 2, 1945 after he going down from the Hungduan-Tinoc area in Ifugao.

With that, treasure hunters still abound in the region in search for the rumored gold left behind by Japanese forces.

The lure of the Yamashita Gold, have become an urban legend in the Philippines. The massive treasure hoard amassed during the Japanese occupation of the islands from 1942 to 1945 during World War II.

Former President Ferdinand Marcos is believed to have obtained part of his personal fortune from the Yamashita hoard, which to this day cannot be proven.

Former Japanese soldiers have been frequenting Baguio and the neighboring provinces in search for buried treasure. Treasure maps abound claiming to lead to the Yamashita gold invite the curious to fund treasure expeditions in the region.

The DENR has given warnings for treasure mongers on illegal diggings as it poses hazard to soil foundation and may lead to erosion.

In Baguio City, the office of the Philippine Postal Corporation was not spared from the lure of instant wealth as city officials discovered on December 2003 a 1.2m x 1.2m opening in the supply room of the office.

Even Asia’s premier military academy is not safe from gold scalpers when police were informed of intruders inside the perimeters of the Philippine Military Academy scourging of minerals, in violation of the Philippine Mining Law.

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