ZAMBALES, Philippines – Four Japanese treasure hunters and their 13 Filipino workers were arrested on Thursday, May 31, for unauthorized treasure hunting in Capones Island in Barangay Pundakit, San Antonio town.
Senior Inspector Jonathan Bardaje, San Antonio police office-in-charge, identified the suspects as Domyo Ukari, 56, of Kagoshima, Japan; Shinchi Kawano, 44, of Kanagawa; Mori Eizo, 60, of Tokyo; and a 15-year Japanese boy from Saitama.
The Filipino workers are Lloyd Marlo Cerezo, Arnold Argel, Rexy Maycong, Rodrigo Castro, Luis Cerezo, Lymar Cerezo, Reggie Maycong, Noel Flores, Jason Ebalane, Gregorio Domingo, Effer Tolentino, Espiridon Gumacao, and Ronald Gonzales.
Bardaje said that at around 5 am on Thursday, May 31, a joint operation of San Antonio MPS, the 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company (Zambales PFMC), and the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) was mobilized to check alleged illegal mining in Capones Island.
The authorities arrived at the site at around 6:30 am and caught one of the suspects digging at the west side of the island, about 50 meters southeast from the lighthouse manned by government personnel.
Bardaje said that based on the depth of the tunnel – around 16 feet deep – he believed that the suspects were operating in the rocky island for more than a month now.
Police confiscated from the suspects a compressor, a generator set, two units of metal detectors, a jack hammer, and other assorted mining equipment.
All the suspects, except the minor, were detained at the San Antonio police station for charges of illegal mining, malicious mischief, and violation of municipal ordinance pertaining to Marine Protected Area.
San Antonio Vice Mayor Lugil Ragadio said Capones Island, declared as a Marine Protected Area through a municipal ordinance 12-056 dated February 13, 2012, is one of the major tourist destinations in the province, especially during the summer season.
In an interview by media, one of the Filipino suspects admitted that they were conducting treasure hunting in the area and were paid P1,000 a day by their Japanese employers.
Under Philippine laws, people who wish to engage in treasure hunting should secure a permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).– Rappler.com
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