The stone fort, the smallest and oldest fort in the country built in the 16th century by Spanish colonizers, is under the management of the Cebu city government and is a major landmark often visited by tourists.
The theft was discovered Wednesday morning during a roving inspection by a guard, according to the Cebu City Station 3 police.
Stolen were four swords (two of them with sheaths) and one bayonet whose value was described as “priceless”. They were kept in the ground floor gallery of the two-level museum located across Plaza Independencia.
Police were later able to recover two empty sheaths outside the fort.
“Why was there a theft when guards are assigned there?” asked Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, who said he will wait for the police investigation results.
He said the last time antiques were missing from the fort’s museum, they traced the loss to an on-the-job trainee.
A new executive director, Erwin de la Cerna, just started his position in the Fort San Pedro Management on Nov. 5. He declined to comment on the record.
Two roving guards are assigned to the museum but didn’t notice anything amiss until 8:40 a.m. of Nov. 7.
The Civil Security Unit (CSU) of City Hall started interviewing museum staff about the loss yesterday, including the security guard on duty Elmer Quilaton, 36, whose shift was 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
A museum official told Cebu Daily News investigators are checking the possibilty of an inside job. Fingerprint samples of the staff were taken by police investigators.
Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young said staff hiring and museum management is under the mayor’s office and not the Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission, which he heads.
But the vice mayor said he would look into the theft and see how CHAC could help preserve the museum’s collection of artifacts and other hsitorical pieces. /Correspondents Tweeny M. Malinao and Edison delos Angeles