Almost 400 World War II explosives were moved out of a residential site in Cebu City after a scrap metal dealer disclosed their location to the police on Monday.
It took two trucks to transfer the dangerous cache, which traveled last night, to a scrap yard in barangay Looc, Mandaue City while awaiting proper disposal by the military.
Steve Bahani, grandson of the owner of Tin Guan Trading Corp., told Tipolo station police the unexploded ordnances were found stockpiled in the family’s property in Holy Family Village in Banilad, Cebu City.
He said his workers were clearing the area and found them, according to the official police report.
The company is engaged in buying and selling scrap iron to clients abroad where the metal is smelted down as a high value commodity.
The whole cache weighed 4.7 tons or about 4,700 kilograms.
Tin Guan Trading Corp. is located in Hernan Cortes Street, barangay Tipolo, Mandaue City.
Military officials in Camp Lapu-Lapu are proposing to move the bombs to an abandoned mining pit in Toledo City for detonation away from populated areas.
“Our priority now is public safety and we will act together with the police for the immediate disposal of these vintage bombs,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Tampus of the Central Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
It was not immediately clear how long the explosives had been stockpiled in a residential area in Cebu City and why this security risk wasn’t checked earlier.
The businessman sought the assistance of the Tipolo police station in Mandaue since the site was closer although Cebu City police were also called in to help.
Insp. Ramil Morpos, chief of the Tipolo Police Station, said the bombs may have accumulated there over the years.
He said some Tin Guan Trading workers said they used to buy these vintage bombs but stopped a few years ago after their clients abroad complained about these dangerous items mixed in their scrap metal shipments and warned that the company would be fined $4,000 per explosive.
An inventory by the PNP Explosives and Ordnance Division of the Cebu City Police Office showed a total of 385 vintage bombs.
There were 76 pieces of 155 mm canon artillery projectiles, 65 pieces of 81 mm mortar projectiles, 209 drop bombs and 35 assorted unidentified unexploded ordnances.
Because of the risk of an accidental explosion, police decided to transfer the cache to another location, still a company-owned property, in barangay Looc in Mandaue City. Tin Guan Trading has a scrapyard there near the Mandaue wharf.
“If it will just be left in their junkyard in barangay Tipolo while waiting for the Central Command AFP to fetch them, it may cause a lot of damage if ever it would explode. The place is congested with establishments,” said Supt. James Goforth, chief of operations of Mandaue City Police Office.
Morpos went to the junkyard to inspect the bombs with Supt. Josefino Ligan, Supt. James Goforth, Morpos, a SWAT team and Supt. Arnel Banzon who is chief of the EOD of the Cebu City police.
The transfer was supervised by by EOD personnel under Banzon.
Police will be coordinating with the military for proper disposal.
Goforth said it was not surprising to find this volume of explosives in Cebu because “Cebu was a garrison during Second World War.”
Tampus said the military is proposing to bring the bombs to the abandoned Biga mining pit in Toledo City where they also detonated vintage bombs last February.
The bombs were discovered by construction crews working on a beach area in Kawit Island off Cebu City’s South Road Properties a month earlier.
The discovery yielded 28 pieces of 150-pound bombs and a 1,000-pound bomb believed left behind by Japanese and American forces during World War II.
The bombs were trucked to Toledo City in a high-security convoy following weeks of negotiations to secure C-4 explosives to detonate the bombs in an abandoned mining pit of the Carmen Copper Corp. in Toledo City. /Norman V. Mendoza, Correspondent with a report by Correspondent Chito Aragon