Illegally Removed Tribal Axe Returned to Philippines Government

A steel and wood axe from the early- to mid-1900s was returned by Australian authorities to the Philippines government in Canberra on November 19, Australian Federal Police said.

According to police, the Australian Border Force intercepted the axe in June 2020, after an Australian customer purchased it from a US-based vendor.

After the item was judged to be an authentic example of a tribal axe associated with the Igorot communities of Northern Luzon, the Philippines, the government of the Philippines requested restitution, as the object was protected under cultural property laws.

At a formal restitution ceremony, the axe was returned to the ambassador of the Philippines to Australia, Hellen Barber de la Vega.

“We will continue to work closely with stakeholders to combat this type of cultural theft,” Australian Border Force group manager for customs Vanessa Holben said.

These images, released by the Australian Federal Police, show the formal restitution ceremony and the axe. Credit: Australian Federal Police via Storyful

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