It used to be that thousands of Filipinos and foreigners would search the islands, spurred on by myths of Japanese World War II plunder. For decades, fortune seekers have traveled to the archipelago in search of hidden riches stolen by Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita and allegedly hidden across the island nation.
However a new edict by Environment Secretary Lito Atienza will place all treasure-hunting activities under the watchful eyes of government regulation to protect the nation's natural and cultural heritage.
Atienza said only Filipinos citizens will be allowed to conduct treasure hunts, and will be required to pay for a one-year permit from the Department of Natural Environment and Resources and post a surety bond, regardless if the hunt takes place on public or private lands.
The directive also banned treasure hunting from sites with cultural value, including ancestral domains and significant caves.
The government will have ownership of all finds found to have historical value, and a committee will determine what to pay the finders for the treasure.