MANILA - Authorities on Sunday retrieved a World War 2-era bomb in Marawi, where experts fear that thousands of unexploded ordinance (UXO) were still scattered and could be recycled for terror activities.
The 77-year-old bomb was dropped in Marawi in the 1940s but did not explode. It has since been used a bell at the Rorog Agus Elementary School.
"Itong bomb na ito 1940s bomb ng World War 2, naging legacy na ng school namin. Baka pwede pa ito pumutok, pwede pa i-recycle. It's not broken kaya pwede pa lagyan ng bomba," said Yashir Batabor, village chairman of Roro Agus.
The Fondation Suisse de Deminage (FSD) or Swiss Foundation for Mine Action had convinced school authorities to dispose of the bomb as it may be used for terror activities.
FSD also warned that months of military airstrikes in the city have left thousands of unexploded bombs that could endanger civilians.
"It's gonna take a long long time to do the clearing of Marawi," said Anthony Thomas Fish, FSD program manager.
FSD is a French-based nongovernmental group that specializes in the recovery of UXOs and has worked in various armed conflicts around the world. It has trained some 20 teachers in Marawi in identifying and handling unexploded bombs. FSD also gave the school a real brass bell.
"The first line of defense is risk education knowing what the dangers are and what to do," Fish said.
Zenaida Alonto, Marawi City assistant schools division superintendent, called on parents and teachers to instruct children not to touch UXOs once the war is over.
Residents, however, will be prohibited from returning to Marawi pending the disposal of UXOs and homemade bombs planted by rebels, said Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Task Group Ranao.
Over 770 terrorists and 157 government forces have been killed in 138 days of fighting in Marawi City as of Saturday morning, Brawner said.
At least 1,750 civilians have also been rescued by the military. -- Report from Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News