Singlaub Says He Located Caches Of Gold Bullion In Philippines
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Retired Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub said Tuesday that he located caches of gold bullion in the Philippines before he abandoned his treasure-hunti ng project last year.
″While I was there I was involved in four different sites,″ Singlaub told reporters at a briefing. ″Some of the treasure has been located. It’s principally gold bullion.″
Singlaub is head of the U.S. Council for World Freedom, a group based in Phoenix, Ariz., which raises money for anti-communist rebel groups.
Singlaub said he quit treasure-hunting in early 1987 because of the media’s repeated attacks on his activities. He said his presence in the Philippines ″created so much controversy that I had to put that activity on hold.″
The hidden treasure, which Singlaub claims has a value of ″billions and billions″ of dollars, was buried in the Philippines by the Japanese during World War II, he said.
Because of the stir he caused, Singlaub said he has agreed not to return to the Philippines without approval from the governments of President Corazon Aquino and the United States.
Various published reports from the Philippines in 1987 said Singlaub was involved in recruiting mercenaries to help fight communist guerrillas and that he influenced right-wing elements opposed to Mrs. Aquino.
Singlaub denied such reports; he said his sole purpose was to look for the treasure and organize its recovery.
″I was working with Mrs. Aquino’s government,″ he said in reference to the treasure-hunting. ″They will benefit greatly from this.″
Singlaub said he reported regularly on his activities to the military and intelligence services in the Philippines, as well as to the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
The treasure he found was never recovered because of the ″lack of funding and the political turmoil″ in the Philippines, Singlaub said. Some of the sites are located in areas where communist guerrillas are active, but they are closely guarded, he said.
″This is one of the reasons the New People’s Army (the communist rebels) has been so irrational,″ he said.
Since leaving the Philippines, Singlaub said he has ″generally lost touch″ with what is happening to the treasure. But he said his contract with those who own the information about the treasure is that he will receive a cut for his organization.
Some people remain skeptical about Singlaub’s claims.
″No one has ever come up with anything solid,″ said Richard Kessler, a expert on the Philippines at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank. He compared reports of the treasure to the Loch Ness monster whose existence has never been proven.
Singlaub also said he has been summoned to appear again before a federal grand jury investigating the Iran-Contra affair.
He said attorneys from the office of independent counsel Lawrence E. Walsh told him he is not a target of a criminal investigation, but they want to ask him more questions.
Singlaub said he already has appeared once before the grand jury that is looking into the sale of U.S. weapons to Iran and the diversion of profits to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels.
In November, the Internal Revenue Service revoked the U.S. council’s tax- exempt status because the group failed to establish that its activities were solely charitable. Singlaub’s attorney, Thomas Spencer, said he would challenge the IRS’s decision in a lawsuit.