MANILA, March 2, 2016— A Catholic archbishop has disclosed the indefinite suspension he imposed on one of his priests over an unauthorized treasure hunting inside an ancient cemetery in Iloilo.
Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo has relieved Fr. Nelson Silvela of San Joaquin parish for allowing a group of men to dig inside the “Campo Santo” that has been declared a national cultural treasure.
Local police on Feb. 24 arrested at least 10 suspected treasure hunters while excavating a 50-foot hole inside the cemetery, which dates back to the Spanish colonial period.
They are currently detained at the San Joaquin police station jail.
The archbishop said neither the archdiocese nor the National Historical Institute issued a permit for the treasure hunting.
“By the very fact, it should become a warning to other priests not to do the same thing,” Lagdameo said over Church-run Radio Veritas on Wednesday.
“It’s not part of their jobs and the archdiocese and the national heritage should be informed about it beforehand,” he added.
Treasure hunting in the country has been regulated following the passage of the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.
This means that the law prohibits anyone from exploring or undertaking diggings for the purpose of obtaining materials of cultural historical value without government’s permission. (CBCPNews)