Monday, February 11, 2019

Unexploded bombs still litter Marawi

From the Manila Times (Feb 11, 2019): Unexploded bombs still litter Marawi
Almost two years after it was declared liberated from terrorists, Marawi City, capital of Lanao del Sur province in southern Mindanao, was still filled with unexploded ordnances, causing delay in its rehabilitation, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Sunday.

Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, military spokesman, said around 40 unexploded ordnances, mostly air bombs dropped by military aircraft during the Marawi siege in 2017, were yet to be retrieved.

This was based on the information from Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., commander of the Philippine Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade, according to Arevalo.

“I asked him (Brawner) about that and he said there are around 40 more [unexploded] ordnances that we still need to recover,” he said in an interview over dzRH radio.

Recovering the unexploded bombs would be hard, Arevalo said, because some of the bombs came from an air assault and went directly to the ground.

“That is why there is a need for us to detect where these are and we need to be careful in retrieving these items,” he added.

Arevalo said authorities were able to “clear” 80 percent of the main battle area in Marawi City.

The fighting between government troops and the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group lasted five months, from May to October in 2017.

The government is having a hard time in completely rehabilitating Marawi City, which was still in ruins when Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., the military chief, visited the former battle ground.

Arevalo clarified that the military’s role in Marawi was only to support Task Force Bangon Marawi, which was primarily in charge of rehabilitating the besieged city.

“We cannot do this alone, the Armed Forces is just part of it. What I have been explaining to the public is this is not just an ordinary digging like what we are doing in digging for yams,” he explained.

“This requires a lot of processes because even if we locate all of those [ordnances] that need to be located, we still have to observe certain procedures, even with those who have expertise in ordnances, but they are the ones who could help in unearthing these items,” Arevalo said.

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