At least 53 unexploded bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are still to be retrieved in Marawi’s ground-zero as most part of the city’s war torn areas has been cleared of explosives left by the ISIS-linked Maute group, Task Force Bangon Marawi officials said on Friday.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen, Bienvenido Datuin, head of the team working with the Task Force Bangon Marawi, said there are still 53 bombs suspected to be located underground of the damage or collapsed structures to be retrieved and blow up in a safe area.
He said three backhoes are currently being used to clear debris on possible locations of the bombs.
Terrorists planted IEDs, booby traps, and bombs during the war in Marawi, which ended in October.
The AFP official said the it has already completed and cleared more or less 20 kilometers of primary and secondary roads within the most affected areas, including one school and three places of worship.
“We also have participated in the completion of 50 units temporarily shelters at Barangay Itowa, Marawi City; completed a ground development of more or less one hectare for temporarily resettlement areas at Barangay Sagonsongan; supported the housing authority and HUDCC in the construction of 570 units temporarily shelters for the IDPs at Barangay Sagonsongan,” Datuin said.
Government authorities have so far recovered a total of 2,853 assorted unexploded ordnance and 415 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Marawi.
Troops in Marawi will hasten clearing operations so residents of 24 barangays will get to visit their homes and businesses before the start of rebuilding, the AFP said.
Over 900 terrorists, 47 civilians, and 165 government troops were killed in Marawi since the fighting began on May 23.
The heavy fighting turned homes and buildings into rubble and displaced over 300,000 residents.
Martial law remains in effect in Mindanao until December 31, 2018 after Congress granted President Rodrigo Duterte’s request for a one-year extension.
Meanwhile, former AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero described the Filipino soldier as “a class of his own when it comes to bravery and courage.”
“The past months as the chief-of-staff of the AFP had shown me why the Filipino fighter is in a class of his own. And we have proudly co-documented achievements in a span of less than six months in the second book entitled, ‘Filipino Courage, Filipino Compassion, AFP Strong’. A fitting homage, the fighting spirit and passion to serve of every soldier, airman, sailor, and Marine spread all over the archipelago,” Guerrero said during his retirement speech.
He said the Filipino soldier’s courage was demonstrated against the strong push against the communist terrorists and in the rehabilitation of Marawi City, as well as in the processing of thousand rebel surrenders.
“The AFP has stayed focus on making peace the priority and the norm across (the) islands,” Guerrero said.
He also lauded the vigilance shown by AFP personnel in preserving and defending the country’s territorial integrity, which was done with the help of the various Unified Commands.
“The security of our waters and islands from north to south and east to west poses a challenge, one (the) AFP Unified Commands consider as a priority. Be that as it may, we have put out collective minds to work and found support from the highest authorities to ensure that the resources we need are made available,” he added.
Guerrero, a member of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1984, formally retired from his post on April 18. He was replaced by PMA Class of 1985 member, Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, formerly of the Western Mindanao Command.
On Oct. 26, 2017, Guerrero was appointed as AFP chief, replacing then AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año, who stepped down after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56. Año is currently Officer- In-Charge Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Guerrero was supposed to retire on Dec. 17, 2017 after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 but his term as AFP chief was extended by another four months by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Guerrero was honored with a testimonial parade and review and the prestigious award of the Philippine Legion of Honor (Rank of Commander) during his retirement.