Senator Chiz Escudero is backing calls to declare as an archeological heritage park Ille Cave in El Nido, Palawan, which was used a burial site and human settlement more than 10,000 years ago.
At the same time, Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, is asking Malacañang and the National Museum to look into reports of looting by suspected Japanese nationals, who took the bones found inside the cave on the belief that the remains belonged to their relative-soldiers who went missing during World War II.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Palawan has passed a resolution seeking the help of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development to establish Ille Cave as a heritage park. The provincial board is also requesting the Department of Tourism to earmark funds to protect and promote the multi-period burial and habitation site, where human bones believed to be that of Philippine ancestors were found.
The resolution to declare Ille Cave as a national park, according to the senator, needs immediate joint government action in local and national levels in order to preserve the pieces of evidence unearthed from the site which are very useful to science and the study of the evolution of humans.
“The presence of animal and human remains in there is significant. Animal bone assemblages (remains) provide invaluable information on the origin, dispersal, and evolutionary history of humans and animals,” Escudero explained.
“Archaeological information of this kind in Southeast Asia is also still limited and this could provide us knowledge on the significant ecological changes in the past that could provide a glimpse of our future,” he added.
The provincial board resolution is pressing for the continuation of the archeological expedition by a team from the University of the Philippines-Archaeological Studies Program following the discovery of evidence of human settlement in Ille Cave thousands of years ago.
Dr. Victor Paz, who leads the excavation team in the Ille Cave during the months of April and May, has reported various cases of looting of human remains in the area to the National Museum since last year, and Escudero said this underscored the need to step up cooperation in the local and national levels in order to prevent such incidents in the future.#