ABS-CBN NEWS.COM (Wednesday, March 1, 2000)

BULACAN (Province), (Luzon Island, Philippines) - Military intellgence chief Lt. Gen. Jose Calimlim denied on Wednesday allegations that he was trying to enshroud in secrecy the government's treasure-hunting operations in Norzagaray, Bulacan.

In an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel, Calimlim said that the treasure hunting is no secret since a contract was entered by him and five other individuals.

Court documents claim hidden treasure is buried in a piece of land owned by a certain Dante Legaspi.

But Legaspi, through his lawyer Homobono Adaza, filed a multi-million civil lawsuit against Calimlim and several other military officers for the treasure hunt on his land.

He also charged Calimlim and the general's men before the Ombudsman for supposedly violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, after members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) forcibly occupied Legaspi's land last November.

As a previous PSG commander, Calimlim said, he was designated by President Estrada to process applications of treasure hunters aimed at raising revenue for the government.

But Calimlim resigned last January as PSG chief, to concentrate on being chief of the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) and as AFP deputy chief of staff for intelligence.

Calimlim admitted that the government has entered into a contract with a treasure hunter to look for buried treasure estimated to be worth several billions of pesos.

"It's a contract between the government of the Philippines represented by myself as designated by the government and Col. Ciriaco Reyes. This is normal because even in the previous administration, the PSG commander is the one designated," he said.

Foreigners Too

Calimlim revealed that foreigners are also participating in the Bulacan treasure hunt.

Two groups of Japanese treasure hunters and an American group have supposedly been exploring the country's territory for years.

At present, eight treasure hunts are ongoing nationwide, while four others have been terminated after yielding negative results.

According to Calimlim, the Japanese treasure hunters are scouring Isabela and Pangasinan for hidden fortune from Japanese ships.

The Americans, meanwhile, are keen on recovering artifacts from sunken Spanish vessels.

"At first, they (Japanese nationals) said they were looking for bones of their loved ones, but it turned out they also had treasure maps with them," he said.

"Anyway, they're conducting these activities with their Filipino partners," the general added.

Calimlim withheld the identities of the foreign treasure hunters.


In a related development, Calimlim accused lawyer Homobono Adaza of exploiting the internal conflict among groups of private individuals who entered the treasure-hunting contract.

Adaza, he alleged, is protecting some smugglers in the country.

"Adaza exploited this . . . we monitored their meeting last February 20 at the Edsa Plaza where it was attended by some of the smuggling personalities . . . they were discussing probable cases that can be filed against me and Task Force Aduana," Calimlim revealed.

The treasure hunt would have remained a secret had it not been for Dante Legaspi who filed a a civil suit against Calimlim and several other military officers.

Legaspi alleges that the military drove him out of his land in Barangay Bigte in Norzagaray.

"They started digging without the knowlegde first of our client in a titled property at Norzagaray," Adaza explained.

The Treasure

The treasure supposedly includes a golden Buddha loaded with diamonds, a golden dragon, a golden tiger with diamond eyes, and several bars of gold.

ABS-CBN checked on the disputed land in Barangay Bigte in Norzagaray and found that more than 80 armed PSG troopers had cordoned off the area.

Rsidents confirmed that the military has been digging there since November last year.

Under Philippine laws, successful hunters are entitled to 25 percent of the total value of the treasure found if these are considered public property.

A 40-percent share is given should the fortune turn out to be private property.

Calimlim explained that in areas outside Metro Manila, monitoring treasure hunts has to be coordinated with police and military commanders who have jurisdiction in the areas concerned.

Security is supposed to be provided by the military, accompanied by explosives experts in case of accidents.

Treasure Hunt Halted By New TRO

By Gerald G. Lacuarta
Philippine Daily Inquirer (March 2, 2000)
BULACAN (Philippines) - TREASURE hunters at a remote site in Norzagaray, Bulacan, will have to suspend diggings for the next three days after a Quezon City court yesterday issued another temporary restraining order amid controversy.

The new 72-hour TRO was an extension of an earlier three-day injunction ordered by Quezon City Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Perlita Tria-Tirona on Tuesday.

Judge Victorino Evangelista of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court set a preliminary hearing on March 7 on the complaint filed by a lawyer representing the owner of the land in Barangay Bigte where a tunnel had been dug up.

Evangelista said the TRO was necessary to give ample time for the summons to reach Armed Forces deputy chief Lt. Gen. Jose Calimlim.

The new TRO was issued even as landowner Dante Legaspi denied having knowledge of the complaint filed by former Immigration Commissioner Homobono Adaza against Calimlim.

It was Calimlim, as commander of the Presidential Security Group, who approved the treasure expedition by one retired Lt. Col. Ciriaco Reyes on Legaspi's property in November last year.

Adaza on Tuesday filed a P380,000 damage suit against Calimlim and Reyes as counsel for Gutierrez, who had been granted a special power of attorney by Legaspi.

Adaza yesterday admitted he had never seen Legaspi, who had complained that the charges were filed without his consent.
''I don't know him (Legaspi) but through a special power of attorney granted to Gutierrez who is my associate, I was asked to handle the case,'' Adaza said.

Adaza said Calimlim's actions were illegal because neither Legaspi nor Gutierrez approved the excavation activities on the property.

Records showed Calimlim, as representative of the government, entered into a contract with Reyes in November last year for the exploration of hidden treasures in Barangay Bigte.

Under the contract, a three-member committee composed of Calimlim or his duly assigned representative, Reyes' representative, and a private citizen will do an inventory and take possession of all articles that will be found on the site.

A portion shall be sold by the committee to cover for safekeeping expenses, while the rest shall be divided between the government and Reyes on a 60-40 sharing scheme.

''Such an agreement is null and void as the subject of the said agreement does not belong to either Calimlim or Reyes,'' Adaza said.

Adaza revealed the diggers were looking for a concrete vault that contained a golden Buddha from Thailand decorated with diamonds, a golden dragon from China, a golden tiger with diamond eyes and gold bars.

Adaza said around 80 armed men allegedly belonging to Presidential Security Group, Intelligence Service of the AFP and Task Force Aduana have encamped themselves at the site.

Adaza said under Article 438 of the Civil Code, ''hidden treasures belong to the owner of the land, building, or property on which it is found.''

''If the finder is a trespasser, he shall not be entitled to any share of the treasure,'' the law stated.

Adaza said heavily armed men have even chased Gutierrez and his companions when they asked the diggers to leave the site a few nights ago.

Gutierrez claimed armed men in three vehicles including a Ford Expedition and Reyes' bullet-proof Chevrolet Savannah van chased them in Angat, Bulacan.

The latest incident of harassment was on Monday when an armed man stood near the door of Gutierrez's law office. The man was later picked up by a blue Toyota Corolla (TAX 546).

''These illegal acts are characteristic of the behavioral conduct of goons or abusive authorities in a police state,'' Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez had earlier filed a criminal complaint of robbery against Calimlim, Reyes, one Lt. Col. David Diciano of the Isafp before the Ombudsman.

Adaza said he has written Philippine National Police chief Panfilo Lacson and AFP chief Gen. Angelo Reyes to investigate the illegal deployment of military personnel at the site of the treasure hunt. the Philippines.
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