City Hall, military hesitate over cost of blasting vintage bombsBy Carmel Loise Matus, Norman Mendoza
Cebu Daily News
The ticklish question is who would spend for the high-security transfer to a remote site where the ordnances can be exploded.
The military said it was ready to provide experts to assist in the disposal.
But Lt. Col. Christopher Tampus, spokesman of the Central Command, said the military would not fund the acquisition of C4 explosives for detonation and had no stocks in Cebu.
He said this would need a special request to the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as the only government agency allowed to stock them.
Unlike January’s discovery of vintage bombs in the shore of Kawit Island in Cebu City, Mandaue city’s cache was surrendered by a grandson of the owner of Tin Guan Trading, a commercial scrap metal buyer and exporter that had accumulated the explosives.
The barangay captain in Looc, where the old explosives were transferred to a junk yard owned by Tin Guan Trading, is worried about the security risk and told police he wants it removed as soon as possible.
As of yesterday, Mandaue police and the Centcom were still waiting for each other to coordinate details of disposal.
Lt. Col.Tampus urged the Mandaue city government to initiate action and make appropriate requests, the way the Cebu City government spearheaded efforts to dispose of the vintage bombs found in the South Road Properties (SRP).
“We’ve only seen the picture of the bombs in the newspapers. If they tell us it’s old and the chemicals are already exposed, it’s really dangerous,” said Tampus.
He suggested holding a coordination meeting with the Mandaue city government, Mandaue police, and barangay of Looc.
Supt. Noel Gillamac, Mandaue City police chief, yesterday said he hasn’t received word yet from the Police Regional Office 7 which is supposed to coordinate with Centcom on the proper disposal of the bombs.
An inventory by police bomb experts said that of the 385 ordnances, 35 can be classified as active.
“We want it removed immediately from barangay Looc the soonest possible time because barangay officials are already alarmed by its presence,” Gillamac said.
Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes was not available for comment.
City Administrator Atty. James Abadia, in a text message, said “Bombs per se are threats. The place only aggravates the situation. The only recourse is to have them disposed in an expedient, effective and safe manner.”
Abadia said the city government wants to help in the disposal and that it would be good if the Mandaue police sends an official request with the cost of the operation.
Lt. Col. Tampus said no assessment was made yet by the police Explosives and Ordnance Division (EOD) that C4 explosives are needed. He said commercially produced explosives may be appropriate and not necessarily military-grade C4.
He said the bombs can be brought to the Biga mining pit in Toledo City. The Carmen Copper Mining Corp., which owns the pit hosted the operation, and volunteered some of its own commercial explosives for the detonation as part of its corporate social responsibility.
In the case of Mandaue’s Ting Guan Trading, there’s no word yet from the business enterprise whether it would shoulder part of the cost.
A grandson of the the owner of Tin Guan Trading, Steve Bahani, called up the Mandaue police on Monday seeking their assistance to pull out the bombs. He said they were found by his workers who were cleaning up the family’s property in Holy Family Village in Banilad, Mandaue City.
Two trucks were used to transport the bombs to the company’s scrapyard on Monday evening.
Looc barangay captain Raul “Pokang” Cabahug told police he worried about the bombs in a the barangay where there are several residences and establishments.
Mandaue police earlier said t the bombs are stockpiled properly and covered with rubber tires to minimize damage in case of an explosion but the risk of that happening is minimal, said Supt. Arnel Banzon, leadder of the SWAT and EOD of the Cebu City Police Office.
Tipolo police station Insp. Ramil Morpos earlier said Tin Guan workers told them they used to buy vintage bombs to resell for their iron content but stopped a few years ago after clients abroad complained about these dangerous items mixed in their scrap metal shipment and warned the company would be fined $4,000 per explosive.
An inventory by the Cebu City police bomb squad said the haul of 385 assorted vintage bombs weighed 4.7 tons or 4,700 kilograms.
They consisted of 76 pieces of 155 canon artillery projectiles, 65 pieces of 81mm artillery mortar projectiles, 209 drop bombs and 35 assorted unidentified unexploded ordnances.
In January this year, construction crews working on a beach in Kawit Island off Cebu City’s South Road Properties unearthed 28 pieces of 150 pound bombs and a 1,000 pound bomb believed left behind by Japanese and American forces in World War II.
These were later hauled to Toledo City in a high security convoy in February and exploded in an abandoned mining pit of Carmen Copper Corp. /with Correspondent Chito O. Aragon