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Poverty fund given to government archaeologists
 
Elson T. Elizaga
 

City Ordinance 9348-2004 appropriated P450,000 to the team of the Archaeological Studies Program (ASP) of the University of the Philippines. The title of the ordinance is "AN ORDINANCE REVERTING THE SUM OF P450,000 FROM THE 'SPECIAL PROJECT: POVERTY REDUCTION EFFORT FOR CAGAYAN DE ORO RESETTLEMENT AREAS' IN THE 2004 ANNUAL BUDGET OF THE CITY PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT OFFICE ...".

The descriptive "reverting" appears to be inaccurate. Shouldn't it be "diverted"?

A City Hall insider wrote in an email that P450,000 was meant to pay five senior archaeologists. But additional money was provided:

  • P100,000 plus to two junior archaeologists
  • P66,000 for airfare of 11 persons
  • P84,000 per diem of seven people for 15 days

The mother of Leee Anthony M. Neri was an employee of the City Planning and Development Office when the ordinance was signed. Neri was a member of the ASP team. [Leee Neri is often misspelled in news articles as Lee Neri.]

In a report by Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro, mayor Vicente Yap Emano denied giving P400,000 to the team for "academic research", but didn't say how much was given. The URL of the article is currently offline, but a copy has been found and reproduced below.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004, Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro

Emano denies paying P400T

By Lizanilla J. Amarga

THE Huluga open site may not be Cagayan de Oro City's first settlement site, the team of archeologists from the University of the Philippines (UP) announced. 

Mayor Vicente Emano, who hired the team, denied reports received by the local Heritage Conservation Advocates (HCA) that he has paid the team P400,000 for the the Huluga excavation project. 

The City Government quoted Dr. Victor J. Paz, director of the UP Archaeological Studies Program, as disclosing that as of the present level of study that they have conducted in the Huluga complex, they have not yet discovered a single piece of evidence that would prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Huluga open site is indeed a settlement site. 

"Vital to the conclusion that the area is once a settlement site, such evidence, Dr. Paz explained, may include post holes, ashes of related artifacts that may prove that big structures have once been erected in the area," their statement reads. 

And during his Saturday "Mayor's Move" radio program at Angel Radyo dxCL, the mayor also defended the delivery of archeological artifacts in Manila and Butuan City saying these "objects belong not only to Cagayan de Oro but also to the whole country." 

Emano also assured that they will bring these artifacts back to the city once they build a museum big enough to house all of these items. 

Nevertheless, City Hall said the team of archaeologists is one in concluding that the Huluga open site is definitely a habitational site where early Cagayanons used to converge. 

"This was based on the artifacts salvaged from the area which included obsidian flakes, trade ware ceramics and earthenware shreds," their statement reads. 

City Hall also quoted Professor Lee Anthony M. Neri, university research associate and senior lecturer at the UP Archaeological Studies Program as saying that obsidian flakes, a natural glass, were once used for trading when money was not yet invented. 

Meanwhile, Emano over dxCL Angel Radyo last Saturday debunked reports gathered by HCA that he paid the archeological team P400,000. 

He said the P400,000 is the amount allocated by his administration for the City Historical Commission for this year. 

"Kadako ba anang P400,000 maypa ako nalang magkuha ug mga tao ug magkalotkalot didto (That P400,000 is too huge an amount, if there was such an amount I would have just taken it and hire some people to do the diggings at the Huluga Open Site)," he said. 

Earlier, HCA member Elson Elizaga disclosed that they have received reports that Emano and these team of archeologists have signed a contract that the City Government would pay the latter P400,000 for the excavation and study of the Huluga archeological complex. 

Emano said the Huluga controversy has been mixed up with local politics and that the latest report that he paid almost half a million to these archeologists is another attempt to put him in bad light. 

"But I would just like to explain that this is not true particularly as this concerns the money of the people," he said last Saturday in vernacular. (With a report from SC) 


Michelle T. Spiers, City Vice Mayor MaryJane L. Butaslac Ian Mark Q. Nacaya, Zaldy Ocon, Caesar Ian E. Acenas, Alexander S. Dacer