83 more UXOs detonated in Marawi’s ‘Ground Zero’

ILIGAN CITY ( MindaNews / 29 January) — Eighty-three assorted unexploded ordnance (UXOs) were detonated Sunday morning in a safe zone inside Marawi’s ‘Ground Zero’ (now referred to as MAA or the Most Affected Area), the former battleground during the five-month war between government forces and the Maute Group in 2017. 

The Joint Task Group Builder composed of Army Explosive Ordnance and Disposal Unit and 553 Engineer Battalion disposed the 83 assorted UXOs. 

Lt. Col. Roy C. Tapat,  Commanding Officer of 553 Army Engineers  said most of the UXOs were found during the construction of different buildings in the last two quarters of 2022.

“The MAA is  now 99 per cent safe,” Tapat said. 

Detonation of unexploded ordnance in Marawi City’s Ground Zero on 03 August 2019. MindaNews photo buy RICHEL V. UMEL

Tapat said the UXOs were mostly 40 mm projectiles. 

The 553 Army Engineers Construction Battalion under the 55th Army Engineer Brigade is in-charge of security within MAA in coordination with  Task Force Bangon Marawi and 103rd Infantry Brigade in Marawi. 

At the consultation/dialogue with Marawi’s internally displaced persons (IDPs or bakwits) in mid-March 2019, then Task Force Bangon Marawi chair Eduardo del Rosario said the MAA was already 90% cleared as “more than 4,500 explosives were already recovered” but the biggest concern” then was the recovery of 49 ammunitions “as big as 500-pounder” general purpose (GP) bombs.

He said the 49 GP bombs – 110, 260 and 500 pounds — were “scattered all over the MAA and that is the reason why we do not like you to go back there for your safety.”

On May 6, 2019, in his presentation to the Cabinet, Del Rosario said a total of 3,973 unexploded ordnance had been retrieved from Ground Zero, along with 816 improvised explosive devices, and 21 of 70 GP bombs.

His presentation showed 13 of 16 500-pounder bombs, four of 17 260-pounder and four of 37 110-pounder had been recovered by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), leaving 49 more unrecovered.

In late October 2019,  the Army Engineers’ Explosive Ordnance and Disposal (EOD) team detonated another 500-pound UXO.  (Richel V. Umel / MindaNews)