An archeologist has called the attention of the National Museum of the Philippines to the reported looting of 500-year-old skeletal remains from two archeological sites in El Nido, Palawan.

In a letter dated May 11, Dr. Victor Paz said all the bones in Maulohin Cave and Istar Cairn — both on the island of Imorigue in New Ibajay town — have been stolen by Japanese descendants of missing World War II soldiers.

He noted that they took bones from burial caves believing they were Japanese.

"We write to report to the National Museum a dastardly act done to our archaeologicalresources and collective heritage," Paz wrote.

Paz, a research associate of the National Museum, said he represents the members of the Palawan Island Palaeohistoric Research Project (PIPRP) team.

The National Museum said it will investigate not only the looting incidents on Imorigue Island but other similar cases.

“We will send people to Palawan and let them investigate with local government and police what really transpired there," National Museum deputy director Cecilio Salcedo said in an interview with GMA News Online on Thursday.

The Japanese Embassy in Manila, on the other hand, maintained that it has “no clear information" regarding Paz’s claim. 

“We are very sorry but we would like to decline to give any comment [on the incident]," it said in an e-mail to GMA News Online on Thursday.

Request for formal queries

Paz said the looting done on two ancestral Filipino ossuaries in El Nido "is a wanton disregard of our heritage... The collecting activity continued despite clear signages that these remains were not Japanese."

Although Paz admitted that there was no quick way to determine the ethnicity of bones collected, there is "certainty that the bones are definitely not Japanese soldiers who died during the 1940s, given the condition of their preservation and the context of their curation in association with metal period pottery sherds and tradeware ceramic sherds."

"We appeal to the National Museum to lead the nation in formal queries with the Japanese government towards a review of its policy that supports unsystematic and unconfirmable collection of human remains in the Philippines," Paz said.

Paz asked the National Museum to help identify the people behind the looting and to stop similar activities. "At the rate the looting is going, we will have nothing left for future generations of Filipinos to protect and learn from," Paz said.

"Known facts"

In his letter, Paz, citing what he called as "known facts," said "the sites of Maulohin and Istar were visited by Japanese nationals with local guides, who carefully sorted and sacked all the bones." 

However, the guards in the area got in the way of the foreigners, Paz said.

"The bones were not carted away after they were challenged by locals, who witnessed the event, about the legality of what they were doing — if they had permits from the National Museum," he added.

In May 2010, the PIPRP team had asked the guards to surrender the sacks of bones to them so that they could bring the remains back to Maulohin and Istar ossuaries.

"The PIPRP team excavating in Dewil valley, New Ibajay, persuaded the concessionaire for Imorigue to direct his guards to surrender the sacks of bones to the team," Paz said. 

"The team returned the bones to their proper place in the two sites. One larger plastic sack contained materials from a site not known to the team. The materials were covered in very dark guano and contained mostly shell artefacts that may have been mistaken for human bones," Paz added.

"This assemblage was deposited inside [Istar]. Signages were written and placed in clear view for both sites explaining in Filipino and English that these human remains are ancestral Filipinos," he said.

Unconfirmed reports

In his letter, Paz also cited "unconfirmed information from interviews" that from January to February last year, "a Japanese group came to Imorgiue in a large white speed boat."

"There were allegedly ten Japanese students, an older sensei man, and a tall older Japanese woman who could speak good Filipino and acted as an interpreter for the group. At Maulohin, an eyewitness saw several of the members of the group cry when they saw the pile of bones inside the cave," Paz said. 
I am wondering how this could happen again and again?
Twelve years ago, bones were stolen from Mangyan tribe burial caves in Mindoro Island. Again in 2009 and 2010.
I have a post, in French; on < expatauxphilippines.blogspot.com > explaining how Japanese people were burning bones of Filipino tribes ancestors, pretending they were Japanese soldiers’ bones from WW II.


The United States won permission Friday to search for the remains of American troops who were killed or went missing while fighting Japanese World War II occupation forces in the Philippines.
Under the agreement, Joint Prisoner-of-War and Missing-in-Action Accounting Command teams from Hawaii would make short, periodic trips to try, with local help, to find the remains of the fallen, ambassador Harry Thomas said.
"Sadly, for over 65 years, many of those Americans who fought alongside Filipinos and gave their lives to liberate the Philippines in World War II have never been accounted for, as their remains have never been found," Thomas said.
"Thanks to this new undertaking... we now have an opportunity to address this. We are grateful for this cooperation which will eventually bring closure to so many families," Thomas said in a statement.
Neither side explained why it had taken so long to reach an agreement.
"The (agreement) honours the shared sacrifices made by the armed forces of both countries that stood together side by side to defend freedom during World War II," the Philippine foreign department said in a statement.
The two governments did not say how many US soldiers went missing in the Philippines during the war.
The remains of 17,202 other American servicemen, most of whom lost their lives in operations in New Guinea and the Philippines, are interred at a 152-acre (62-hectare) gated cemetery in Manila.


 A U.S. military presence in the South China Sea can help protect rights of smaller countries, the Philippines said on Tuesday, as China pressed its claim to a long-disputed arhipelago.

China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all claim territory in the South China Sea, parts of which are believed to be sitting on huge deposits of oil and gas.
China's claim is by far the largest, forming a vast U-shape over most of the sea's 648,000 square miles (1.7 million square km), including the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos.

Philippine Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the United States had a stake in the stability, security and freedom of the world's second-busiest sea lane.

"The U.S. presence is a deterrence to any unlawful activity in the South China Sea," Gazmin told reporters, urging restraint and diplomacy among the six states with conflicting claims.

Manila has accused China of intrusions into its territory, citing six instances, including one in March when two Chinese patrol boats tried to ram a survey ship.

"These are causes of concern, if your territory is violated by another country," Gazmin said, adding China's actions would be the test of its stated aim of wanting to work with other countries.
"The future will tell us if they are committed to what they have told the world, that they are for peaceful resolution of the dispute."

The United States has forward bases in East Asia, allowing its warships and aircraft to visit and hold drills with allies in Southeast Asia. U.S. carrier battle groups have also been making regular visits to the Philippines, where it used to maintain two huge bases until 1992, passing through the South China Sea.

Tensions in the South China Sea have also risen between China and Vietnam. Last month, Vietnam accused Chinese patrol boats of harassing an oil-exploration ship conducting a seismic survey 120 km (80 miles) off Vietnam's south-central coast.

About 300 people marched on the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi on Sunday in a rare public protest to condemn what they called China's violation of Vietnamese sovereignty.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei repeated on Tuesday that Beijing had "indisputable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and nearby seas".

"China and Vietnam have reached a number of important understandings on appropriately resolving the Spratlys issue and protecting the stability of the South China Sea, and we hope that Vietnam will make real efforts to implement these understandings," he told a regular news briefing.

State news agency Xinhua quoted Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi as saying in Hungary on Monday that "attempts to complicate the situation there (in the South China Sea) run contrary to the will of the international community".
"For those who respect the facts, the situation in the South China Sea is stable, and maritime security and freedom of navigation and overflight are (an) obvious reality," it paraphrased him as saying.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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