Jan 8, 2009

Subway Excavations Spur Looting in Phillipines

A very interesting story this morning from Jobers Bersales of the Cebu Daily News on the looting which took place when subway excavations under Cebu's Plaza Independencia resulted in looting of ceramic and other objects uncovered by the digging. 

The tragedy of Plaza Independencia was compounded somewhat because of the failure of the National Museum to send a monitoring team to observe the subway project, a recommendation made by the private archaeological firm that was hired to conduct pre-project archaeological assessment of the plaza in 2006. It was only when this columnist came out in August last year to report the looting that the National Museum immediately and without haste came over to begin the monitoring process! That report was triggered by the same online heritage forum where a member mentioned the golden treasures that were taken out of the construction site with regularity.

The looting was compounded further by the fact that Kajima Construction, which actually reported to the National Museum about the looting way back in June but got no response, had some sub-contracted workers coming from their former infrastructure project in Butuan province – workers who had experienced looting burial sites in artifact-rich Butuan. The looting had so alarmed Kajima that it ordered an investigation way, way before the looting was reported, fired the workers, and requested the sub-contracting firm to order the return of the gold bracelets, armlets, earrings and untold number of jars, plates and other ceramics that were carted away by an antiques buyer posing just outside the walls of the construction site, a gray-haired man who carried thousands in a clutch bag.
For more, see here, a series of blog posts with photos from Cebu. 
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