By: Tu Alid Alfonso, MDM
May 17, 2013: The site for the construction of six classrooms school building with complete sets of armchairs, blackboards, tables and chairs for Lapok Elementary School funded by the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines implemented by the United Youth for Peace and Development, Inc. (UNYPAD) in Barangay Lapok, Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao was cleared and found free from Unexploded Ordnance or UXO contamination after a re-clearing operation conducted by the Explosive and Ordnance Team of the 6th Infantry “Kampilan” Division, Philippine Army headed by its Commanding General, Bgen. Romeo G. Gapuz of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The EOD Team and the Government of the Philippines’ Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (GPH-CCCH) led by Major Carlos T. Sol, Jr., the Moro Islamic Liberation Fronts’ CCCH represented by Mr. Toks Upahm, representatives of International Monitoring Team (IMT), the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) and Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines (PCBL) issued a clearance for the operation of the project on May 8, 2013.
“Walang nakitang UXOs ang ating EOD Team, malinis ang area at pwede na ninyong umpisahan ang pag’construct,” (There were no UXOs found by our EOD Team, the area is cleared and you (UNYPAD) can now begin for construction) Major Sol said after the UXO clearing operation is done.
Major Sol has also requested the community leaders to help in securing the project staff and construction materials.
“If this was Afghanistan or Cambodia, it will take several days or months to clear this parcel of land, Mindanao is fortunate on this aspect”, said PCBL Coordinator Fred Lubang.
“All reasonable efforts, including visual and sub-surface search methods, in conjunction with an explosives detection dog, were made to reduce the UXO risk to as low as reasonably practicable”, explained FSD Programme Manager Tony Fish.
Immediately after giving the green signal to the UNYPAD and the community leaders of the said Barangay, the construction materials for the project were downloaded in the site. The veteran construction workers who are in charge for construction of the six classrooms were also deployed in that day.
It revealed in the community dialogue during that day that the School Principal of Lapok Elementary School Mr. Esmael Mansao and the community leaders have been very thankful for the project because it provides enough classrooms for some 400 pupils in the community. They promised to make the project operation become smooth by safeguarding the materials and the project staff.
The UNYPAD leadership through the Office of the National President Mr. Rahib L. Kudto and Development Management Center of the UNYPAD Director Mr. Anwar Z. Saluwang, MMPA were heartily extending their deepest thanks to the strong cooperation of the GPH-CCCH Chairman BGen. Cesar Dionisio T. Sedillo, Jr., AFP and to the MILF-CCCH Chairman Hon. Said Sheik, representatives of the IMT Mr. Takayuki Nakagawa, Chief Coordinator for Socio-Economic Assistance, and to the FSD and PCBL.
This project is funded through the scheme of the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) of Japan Embassy under the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD).