MANILA - The Philippine Army has concluded its internal investigation on the fire and consequent explosion that occurred inside the Philippine Army armory last May 7.
Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato said the fire started during an ongoing demilitarizing procedure, wherein old, unserviceable ammunition was being emptied of their gunpowder.
Detoyato said the fire ignited through friction, while the 105mm shells were being separated from their contents.
In demilitarizing, gunpowder is disposed of, retaining the shells and reusing them for blank ammunition often used in honors ceremonies.
This process is part of the Army's periodic inspection of ammunition.
The demilitarizing was led by 1Lt. Dinar Alozada, head of the Office of the Army Chief Ordnance and Chemical Service (OACOCS).
Alozada, the third person to succumb to massive third degree burns sustained from the fire, died in the hospital last May 21.
According to Detoyato, Alozada was with around 4 other persons when the gunpowder combusted, including the 2 soldiers who perished ahead of Alozada - Master Sergeant Ferdinand Rafal, and Army Corporal Bernabe Mota of the Explosive Ordnance Division (EOD) Battalion of the Army Support Command (ASCOM).
Alozada sustained third degree burns in 80% of her body.
The fire and subsequent explosion was ruled an accident by the Army, but not without admitting certain procedural lapses.
It was proven that the actions of the EOD Battalion was inconsistent with regulation because the demilitarizing procedure was not done a safe distance from populated areas.
For this, the Army has relieved from his post the Battalion Commander of the EOD, Lt. Col. Florante Sison.
He will also no longer be allowed to take any command positions in the next 2 years as part of his sanctions.
The entire EOD Battalion was immediately sent back to Camp Servillano Aquino in Tarlac.
Alozada is survived by 2 children, and her husband who is also in the Philippine Army.
The Army will shoulder all expenses related to the accident, and with the help of the Hero Foundation, support the children's needs until they turn 18.