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120 kg bomb deactivated in Maguindanao

 • 15:34 PM Thu Nov 26, 2015
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By: 
Valerie Ann Lambo
Bomb experts view UXO in Guindulungan, Maguindanao. (VL)

COTABATO
CITY –- Barely a day goes by without reference to improvised explosive devices
causing havoc to nearby towns in Mindanao. Yet, in a small town in Maguindanao,
devices lie undiscovered in the fields, farms, building sites and roadways.

An
aircraft bomb HE GP MK81 weighing 250 lbs was safely defused by the joint
Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the Government
of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Monday
at Datalpandan, Guindulungan, Maguindanao.

Together
with the Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines (PCBL), Fondation Suisse de
Déminage (Swiss Foundation for Mine Action or FSD), International Monitoring
Team (IMT) and elements of Army’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team, the
120 kg bomb was successfully destructed onsite.

The
explosive war remnant was recently discovered by residents in Datalpandan who were
farming in the area. The bomb was placed in a 6-foot hole then covered with
tons of dirt to reduce the explosive hazard.

This
bomb, identified as surface laid, can bring a 4-storey building down. Just
imagine the level of damage it can create if it falls on the wrong hands,” Corporal
Robert Belandres, EOD technician said.

He
said if at all possible civilians should first confirm that there is UXO. If
they can assess the dimensions of the UXO and perhaps draw a sketch enhanced by
detailing any clear markings, this would assist bomb disposal personnel.

However,
Belandres explained, extreme caution should be exercised and a telephone call
to the police should be the next step. Be wary of using mobile telephones or
radios to relay information the device may still be sensitive and highly
volatile.

Fred
Lubang, PCBL national coordinator, said joint task force aims to address the
detection and clearance of UXOs and landmines.

The
idea is a joint operation for both parties to clean up the remnants of war,”
Lubang said.

He
said this activity is in conformity with the Annex E on Normalization under the
Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed on January 25, 2014 in Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia.

Normalizaton
is an integral part of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the
GPH and MILF. It a process where communities can achieve their desired quaity
of life, which includes the pursuit of sustainable livelihood and political
participation within a peaceful deliberative society.

We
need to move fast. The longer we get to the UXOs, the risk is higher. It might
fall into the wrong hands and might use it against civilians on the ground,”
Lubang said.

He
said we’re fortunate that the MILF declared during the 1997 agreement that they
won't use landmines in their warfare. They said it's against their Islamic
values.

This
activity showed us that peace agreements by both parties could be implemented.
The talks are going on but in the grounds, we are already implementing the
realization of the peace agreements. This is a strong message to everyone that
peace is attainable, Lubang said.

Mine
risk education

Mine
Risk Education (MRE) aims to reduce the risk to local communities and
strengthen the peace process by facilitating cooperation in UXO reporting and
clearance between all stakeholders in the Mindanao peace process.
This
activity involves collecting and analyzing new and existing information about
hazardous objects and areas. The survey teams map types and locations of UXO
and report these to police or army EOD teams. In addition, FSD conducts MRE and
gives community-safety briefings.

FSD
is working together with the Department of Education in conducting MRE that
involves trainers visiting schools or community centers to warn people,
particularly children, of the dangers involved in tampering with UXO.

Tony
Fish, FSD Mindanao programme manager, said the threat to life on discovering
UXO is very real, and devices are being uncovered throughout our countryside
more regularly than one might imagine.

The
worst case scenario is when kids found it and start playing with it because
they think its a toy. UXO is a killer and 60% of injuries are caused by small
UXOs,” Fish said.

He
said other people think UXOs are made of gold. People may find it and they take
it home and they try to chop it off. So they're trying to separate the metals
and it will eventually explode.

If
you find something, dont touch it, stay away and report it. Please remember –
if in doubt, assume it is UXO and treat it as such,” Fish stressed.

FSD,
is an international mine action organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. This
private, independent, and non-profit organization was created in 1997 and
funded by European Union as part of their project support to the Mindanao Peace
Process.

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