The Archaeological Studies Program
(ASP) and the National Museum. In the months that followed, Burton and the rest of
the HCA would be stunned to discover that the National Museum, instead
of filing a case against Emano, had approved a P450, 000 contract between
the ASP and the City Hall for the ASP to do a two-week salvage archaeology
in Huluga and two other sites in Cagayan de Oro.
The amount appeared to be extraordinarily high: In 2003, at the Huluga
Open Site, Neri told Lourd Ostique of Museo de Oro at Xavier University
and I that a digging in Huluga alone would require only P80, 000 for
the same duration.
A more startling development: On October 29, 2004, one year after the
inauguration of the illegal road-and-bridge construction that partially
destroyed the Huluga Open Site, a team from the ASP led by its director, Dr. Victor Paz, gave Burton a visit in her office at RIMCU.
Paz told Burton that they had began digging on Obsidian Hill. Burton
couldn’t believe her ears. They did not even ask Burton to be
part of the project, nor consulted her about it, during and prior to
Paz also told Burton that he had to obey a contract that he had signed
with Emano. I discovered later that the contract was not notarized
that day. A lady staff member from the Historical and Cultural Commission
(HISCCOM) of the City Hall, responding to Susan Palmes of radio station
DxJR, who was asking for
a copy of the contract, said on air on November 2 that the contract
could not yet be released to the public because "wala pa man ni
Palmes, a law student, naturally raised an obvious
concern: Speaking in Cebuano, she said, “So, why is the ASP digging
Even more astounding: When I learned about Paz’s
visit, I called up the two landowners of Obsidian Hill and asked if
they knew about the digging. They said no. The landowners, who requested
anonymity, consequently went to Obsidian Hill on November 2 and 6 separately
and talked with the diggers. One was
very upset: "Why did you not consult us? We are all professionals
here. I'm a professional, too. Why did you not inform my family about
The angry landowner said Agnes Paulita Roa (aka Nanette Roa) of HISCCOM and
a National Museum representative who came with the ASP apologized and promised
to return the soil when the project would be finished on November 14.
The landowner told me: "Next time, we will not allow them to dig
in our lot."
A few days later, Mindanao Goldstar Daily and Mindanews
published my article “Parachute Archaeologists”, which
was about the ASP and its excavation. In this write-up, I quoted Burton,
who said that Paz and his team violated the "universal" Code
of Ethics of Archaeology when Paz signed a contract with Emano to do
archaeological digging in Cagayan de Oro without consulting her.
Goldstar also reported HCA lawyer Manuel Ravanera,
who said HCA was planning to slap charges against Emano and the archaeologists of the ASP. Ravanera said nobody should have been allowed to touch
Huluga since there was a pending case filed by the City Hall on this
matter. "They (city
hall) should not have commissioned anyone to do any archeological digging
until such case is resolved," Ravanera said.
On November 11, 2004, the ASP held a press conference
at the Philippine Information Agency in Cagayan de Oro about their
findings in Huluga and two other sites. Several journalists, among
them Palmes, asked them about Burton’s concern about ethics.
Dr. Eusebio Dizon of the National Museum responded by saying "there
is no such thing as a universal Code of Ethics for Archaeologists --
none whatsoever in the archaeological world". DxJR
also reported an unnamed ASP archaeologist during that press conference
who said, "We don't follow any code of ethics. We just follow
the law of the land.”
Montalvan also recalls: " In the Channel 39 interview,
both Paz and Dizon said, when asked why they did not coordinate with
Burton, that Burton's style of archaeology was outdated, or words to
that effect. I remember this very well. This was unethical too, aside
from being arrogant. It is almost badmouthing a peer in the profession,
and in media at that."
Montalvan also questions ASP's coordination with Roa:
"When the protracted Huluga debacle took place,
Nanette [Roa] was just a member of the HISCCOM, receiving an honorarium
of a little over a thousand pesos a month. Today she is the manager
of the Lawndale resort [renamed Kagay-an Resort] which, ironically,
is just the next-door neighbor of the destroyed Huluga Open Site.
"If you look at the timing, it would appear that her appointment
was a reward for defending Emano to the hilt. She did not lift a finger
to defend the destruction of the Open Site. In fact, she and Teddy
Bautista DENIED that there ever was a destruction.
"These things have to be laid out in the open for it was Nanette
who almost was the apologist for the Paz-Dizon group. That is another
ethical question. They refused to coordinate with Burton but they
had no qualms believing the words of a charlatan."
Cast your vote: Do you want Manila archaeologist to ignore local scholars when doing work in the provinces?