Latest Stories

Contractor says ‘mambunong’ inspired diggings

TOURISTS still visit the Bell House and the Amphitheatre, oblivious to the drama unfolding there because of a mysterious tunnel. VINCENT CABREZA/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

BAGUIO CITY—The former Camp John Hay officials, who were sacked for a suspected treasure-hunting operation, were questioned at the National Bureau of Investigation on Thursday, armed with a testimony from a contractor who owned up to the incident.

The services of Ken Aquilet, former vice president of the government-owned John Hay Management Corp. (JHMC), and former administrative manager Peter Garas, were terminated on March 25 by the JHMC board after a company probe confirmed that an unauthorized 15-foot tunnel had been dug under the historic Bell House in the tourism complex.

Jamie Agbayani, JHMC president, said the firm had asked the NBI to start an independent investigation, believing the tunneling operation involved people who were not authorized by the JHMC, based on evidence sent by an informant.

Lawyer Christopher Donaal, counsel of the two sacked officials, said his clients submitted themselves to the NBI inquiry.

But the two men also submitted an appeal to the JHMC board for a review of their case, in light of a notarized affidavit that exonerates them from the treasure-hunting allegations, he said.

JHMC contractor Danilo Lubendino, in his affidavit, said he dug the tunnel at the behest of a ritual priest and the JHMC officials were unaware of his project.

“I am solely responsible for the hole and the purpose for which it was dug … I sincerely apologize to the JHMC for the infraction … My conscience is being bothered, considering that innocent people are being blamed and will suffer the consequence of my action,” he said in the affidavit.

Lubendino described himself as the foreman of a work crew tasked with building an archival and file repository under the Bell House.

But work was stalled by a sewage leak, prompting Aquilet and other officials to commission them to build a new septic tank in December.

“While digging [a tunnel for a] septic tank, I noticed that a portion of the [basement] wall was ‘soft’ and I decided on my own to dig a tunnel to look for the main sewer line,” Lubendino said.

He said Aquilet ordered him to seal the tunnel, which was closed on Dec. 30, 2012, because he feared it endangered the wooden foundations of the building.

“On that day … I noticed that I had a hard time walking and my left leg started to bulge unnaturally. [I was also suffering] dizzy spells. As practiced in our culture, I immediately consulted our mambunong (ritual priest) who told me that I may have disturbed spirits while excavating the septic tank,” he said.

Lubendino said Aquilet, a fellow Cordilleran, allowed him to perform rituals to appease the spirits, but his condition remained unchanged, so the mambunong advised him that something else may be concealed beneath the Bell House. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Camp John Hay , News , Regions , treasure hunting

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Opinions split on Napoles turning state witness
  3. Delfin Lee: Blame Pag-Ibig, not me
  4. Plunder complaint filed vs PNP chief, firearms office head over license delivery deal
  5. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  6. San Juan cops fail to arrest Cedric Lee
  7. More ‘Yolanda’ bodies found
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  10. Boy ‘sexually assaulted’ at Indonesia international school
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima


  • PNP chief on plunder raps: ‘Amateurish’
  • Makati readies 12-month traffic plan for Skyway 3
  • Heard on Radyo Inquirer 990AM
  • Did you know
  • HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  • Sports

  • Mixers trim Aces, force do-or-die tiff
  • Donaire junks Garcia as coach, taps father
  • ’Bye Ginebra: No heavy heart this time
  • UAAP board tackles new rules
  • Baguio climb to decide Le Tour de Filipinas
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • In love … with acting
  • From prison to the peak of success
  • ‘Asedillo’ location thrives
  • Business

  • PH banks not ready for Asean integration
  • Stocks down on profit-taking
  • Banks allowed to use ‘cloud’
  • SMIC to issue P15-B bonds
  • Honda upgrades PH plant
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • 19 Ukrainians, Russians, Filipinas rescued in bar raid
  • Filipinos coming home from Mideast must obtain MERS clearance – DOH
  • US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  • Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  • Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  • Marketplace