Acting Assistant Director of the National Museum (NM) Angel Bautista led the Philippine delegation to the Unesco Sub-Regional Workshop for the “Fight Against Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property in Southeast Asia” which was held in Jakarta Indonesia recently.
This workshop promotes the ratification and implementation of the two major international legal frameworks that seek to prevent and combat the trade of stolen and illicitly exported cultural material. These are the 1970 Unesco Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Properties, and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects.
While the primary aim of the workshop was to provide a forum for sharing experiences on the implementation of the 1970 Convention, the two-day workshop highlighted the issues faced by Afghanistan, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian countries in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural materials. Indonesia and the Philippines are currently considering ratifying the 1970 and 1995 Conventions. Afghanistan has been a State Party to the 1970 Convention since 2005 and to the UNIDROIT Convention since 2006, and currently faces a number of challenges given the destruction of heritage by the Taliban, as well as the loss and theft of cultural materials in the face of conflict.
For the Philippines, Bautista presented the national system of protecting cultural heritage by discussing government initiatives towards protecting and preserving cultural heritage, be it intangible or tangible, immovable or movable. He presented the status of illicit traffic in the Philippines, and existing national legislation, capacity building and information dissemination campaigns, and information exchange conducted by the NM with other government agencies including but not limited to the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime (PCTC) and Interpol. The national and international conferences and workshops on the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Cultural Property organized by the NM with other agencies were also discussed.