FOLLOWING the stoppage of an alleged treasure hunting in a village in Talisay City, southern Cebu, Mayor Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas Jr. has requested the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a separate probe.

The City Legal Office is also preparing for an appropriate legal response to the individuals behind the digging.

Gullas has ordered people involved in the digging to backfill the hole in Purok Colis, Barangay Candulawan (not Cadulawan as earlier reported), saying he wants to “restore stability of the ground.”

“Tungod aning gibuhat aning mga gidudahang treasure hunters, nakamugna na noon ni sila ug dakong peligro sa mga residente sa Candulawan ilabi na katong mga namuyo duol sa lugar kung asa sila nagkawot,” he said in a statement posted on his Facebook page Tuesday, April 18, 2023.

(The actions of these suspected treasure hunters have created a great danger for the residents of Candulawan, especially those who live near the area where they have been digging.)

Residents earlier identified the diggers as Nestor Canunayon and his live-in partner Marissa Abadiano, a purok leader, who claimed that what they were digging was a septic tank.

The digging site, where the alleged treasure hunting had taken place, is now closed for safety purposes after investigators from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Central Visayas (MGB 7) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR 7) inspected the site on Tuesday.

The activity, which had no government permits, had disturbed residents in Colis.

According to the MGB 7, the nature of the violations and the corresponding sanctions depend on the findings of the geologist and mining engineer who went to Colis for site assessment.

For a treasure hunt to be deemed legal, DENR 7 senior communication development officer Maricita Cabasa clarified Tuesday that permits must be secured from the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP), not from the MGB.

Cabasa had said in a previous report that treasure hunts must have permission from the MGB.

She said the NMP regulates treasure hunting activities in public or private lands as well as the disposition of recovered hidden treasures or things of value. If the area is a protected area, permits from the DENR must also be obtained.

Meanwhile, Candulawan Barangay Captain Josefina Concial (not Poncial as reported earlier) said they already discovered a Y-shaped tunnel underneath the digging site.

Concial said the affected residents are still staying in the area, adding that they are waiting for the findings and recommendations of the MGB.

“Wa pay advice nga gipabalhin sila, pero mao to’y giingon nga mag-vigilant lang ta, magbinantayon sa matag-usa nato nga pagpuyo,” she said.

(There was no advice given yet that they should move, but they were told to be vigilant and watchful of their respective houses.)

Gullas also advised the barangay officials to remove animals from the premises so the City will be able to fully close the digging site.