Were WW II relics looted in Capitol road digging?
A Cebuano archeologist and historian yesterday called on the government to practice “vigilance in heritage.”
Prof. Jojo Bersales of the University of San Carlos made the call after some residents in Capitol Site said World War II artifacts were looted from an excavation where the Department of Public Works and Highways is undertaking a road widening project.
Bersales, who was alerted by a resident about “selling” transactions going on, visited the area yesterday along M. Velez Street beside the Guadalupe river.
He didn’t find relics like bayonets, Samurai swords or wartime debris, just conflicting acounts of residents about the unearthed finds.
Bersales said the local government should check on the claims.
“If we are to protect the heritage, we must go and confirm it ourselves. One cannot be passive since these are important properties that can easily be hidden.”
WW II artifacts are sold to antique dealers and collectors in the black market and online sites lie e-Bay.
Yolanda dela Cruz, a resident near the digging, said she only saw an old liquified petroleum gas (LPG) tank.
Another resident confirmed that World War II relics were unearthed beneath their houses.
“I was telling my neighbors not to touch those things. When I woke up the next day the armaments were gone,” he said.
Mac Galingsuga, 65, said he moved to Cebu from Leyte in the 1960s and used to see old bayonets and tank parts below their homes but not anymore.
Another resident told Bersales that bayonets were traded in a junk shop in barangay Calamba but there were none when he visited yesterday.
Bersales showed reporters samples of Japanese bayonets now displayed at the Museo Sugbo War Memorial Gallery.
A single bayonet is sold online in eBay for $200-300 per piece, he said.
He acknowledged the importance given by city and provincial government towards heritage but said more needs to be done.
“Maybe it’s time to bring the museum to the poor. Will they care? I think they won’t,” Bersales expressing dismay over culture “taking a back seat” especially in developing countries like the Philippines.
Gerson Gamas, National Museum-Cebu branch OIC said they will send a report to their head office. /Correspondent Jessa Marie Agua
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