THE National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) is set on pursuing the case against illegal diggers and the former parish priest for desecrating the Camposanto chapel inside the San Joaquin public cemetery in Iloilo City.
According to Lawrence Charles Salazar, NCAA section head of the subcom on cultural heritage, said his office is not abandoning the case and in fact, he visited the San Joaquin police and the Camposanto on Tuesday, August 16, to see the updates of the case.
San Joaquin police filed the charges against 10 illegal diggers and treasure hunters including former San Joaquin parish priest Reverend Father Nelson Silvela who allegedly ordered the diggings inside the heritage site.
Salazar admitted that he was informed the 10 diggers were already arraigned and out on bail. But Father Silvela remained at large.
The San Joaquin Camposanto became controversial when 10 persons were apprehended by the police caught red handed in digging and treasure hunting on February 2016 inside the chapel structure. The workers claimed it was the priest who ordered the diggings every night since December 2015.
The parish priest immediately filed an indefinite leave of absence and there were reports he was under the protection of the Jaro Archdiocese in Jaro, Iloilo City. The hole inside the Camposanto was filled up since then to prevent danger for the people who buried their dead inside the cemetery.
Last March 1, 2016, a team from the National Museum and National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCAA) based in Metro Manila arrived at San Joaquin to inspect and determine the damage done to the Camposanto chapel inside the town’s cemetery.
Salazar said the Camposanto was declared a national cultural treasure by the National Historical Commission last year as a tribute to the heritage and historical treasures of the country. It is located in the municipality of San Joaquin including the baroque style historical church in the poblacion of San Joaquin.