Thursday, May 22, 2014

Army ordnance battalion commander sacked over deadly Fort Boni blast

From InterAksyon (May 22): Army ordnance battalion commander sacked over deadly Fort Boni blast

Lieutenant Colonel Florante Sison, the battalion commander of the Ordnance and Explosives Division of the Philippine Army Support Command, was sacked from his post following the death of a third soldier who was among the injured in the May 7 explosion in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.

“He is immediately relieved from his post and he will not be able to hold any command position for the next two years,” Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato said on Thursday, adding that Sison’s termination was based on command responsibility.

First Lt. Dinar Alosada, the third fatality, died at 3:59 p.m., Wednesday, at the East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City. The other two fatalities were Corporal Bernabe Mota and Master Sergeant Ferdinand Rafa passed away. The three victims suffered from serious burns in the blast that rocked the Army compound and also injured 30 other military personnel including civilian firefighters.

The other casualties are already out of danger but need continuous medication and longer recuperation, according to Detoyato.

Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando Irriberi promised to make public within this week the result of the investigation on the blast.

According to Detoyato "there (was) no safety officer detailed" at the the compound "when the fire started."

"Kung minsan nakakalimutan ‘yong procedures [Sometimes procucedures are forgotten], he said, adding that there was also violation of standard operation procedures.

Gun and artillery powders at the Army compound were reportedly not properly kept and sometimes “littered” in and outside the storage section of the explosives.

Detoyato confirmed this, saying “Kaya nagkaroon ng fire tapos naging mabilis [The fire quickly spread]...because there was a presence of powder... May mga blank ammos kasi doon ng 105 [There wre blank ammos there for 105 howitzer]."

He said this was based on statements of eye witnesses and even from the survivors.

Detoyato said the recommendation was to craft a better demilitarization program to prevent a repeat of the incident.

"Another is to create an Army wide study group to enhance safety standards in handing, storage and maintenance and disposal of ammunition and explosives,” he said.

As an immediate preventive measure, the Army support command has already started transferring the bulk of the explosives to Camp Aquino, the headquarters of the Northern Luzon Command based in Tarlac City, according to Detoyato.

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