By Jonas Reyes
SAN ANTONIO, Zambales – Four Japanese and thirteen Filipinos were detained Thursday at the San Antonio Police Station after excavating the renowned Capones Island in Barangay Pundakit here.
According to a spot report by the San Antonio Police Station, 56-year-old Domyo Ukari, 44-year-old Shinchi Kawano, 60-year-old Morie Eizo, a 15-year-old Japanese national, and thirteen other Filipinos were arrested for illegal mining.
Domyo, Shinchi and Mori are all residents of Legaspi Village in Makati City and are natives of Japan, while the Japanese minor is a resident of San Marcelino in Zambales and served as the interpreter of the three Japanese nationals to the thirteen other workers.
San Antonio Chief of Police PS Isnp. Jonathan Bardaje said their group conducted a joint operation with the Provincial Mobile Force Company (PMFC) against the alleged illegal mining in the Capones Island. The group apprehended the suspects who were caught in the act of digging the west side of the island.
Other suspects were identified as Lloyd Marlo Cerezo, 22; Arnold Argel, 23; Rexy Maycong. 21; Gregorio Domingo, 34; Effer Tolentino, 24; Rodrigo Castro, 58; Luis Cerezo, 39; Lymar Cerezo, 20; Reggie Marcong, 25; Noel Flores, 29; Jason Ebalane, 27; Espiridon Gumacao, 62; and Ronald Gonzales, 48.
Recovered from the illegal operation were a compressor set, generator set, metal detector, grinder, edger, two exhaust fans, two shovels, jackhammer, hand saw, tool box, assorted ropes, sprayer, zonar metal detector, 18 pieces of steel pipes used for scaffoldings, a pike and a rake.
According to Vice Mayor Lugil Ragadio, the island is considered a public domain since it houses the Capones Island Lighthouse, adding that the area is not for sale nor should be settled upon by people. He also said the area is a marine protected and that the Philippine Coast Guard has been constantly monitoring the island.
The group has already dug up around sixteen feet in depth and already has an area of five by five meters despite the rigidness of the area, which leads to speculations of alleged treasure hunting. Some residents say that the Capones Island might have been where a well-known Japanese officer hid his treasure during the last world war.