"All that glitters..."

When a farmer in Sarangani province found a gold-and-silver egg in the forest bordering his farmland, he assured his family their financial troubles were over.  From now on, they would be rich.  Having taken the egg home, he tried to separate the gold from the silver.  That wasn’t easy, so he placed it in the rafters of his small home for safe keeping. 

The next day, whilst he and his family were sitting down to breakfast, the egg fell to the floor and exploded, killing him, his sister and his 4-year-old daughter.  His wife and two other members of the family were also injured.  After a few days, the neighbours had to burn the house down, as the smell of blood was unbearable.  The family’s financial troubles have only got worse.

It’s a familiar tale.  The egg, in reality a 40mm dual-purpose anti-armour / anti-personnel grenade, contains 45 grams of high explosive and has a 5 metre “kill radius”.  Villagers often mistake the gold anodised grenade (which houses a very sensitive fuze) for the precious metal, with predictably tragic results as they try to hack the “gold nugget” from the grenade body.

                                ...... isn't gold

The grenade, and other unexploded ordnance (UXO), was left behind from fighting between the Philippine Army and rogue elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), following the breakdown of the peace process in 2008.  Other UXO in the Sarangani area resulted from fighting between the Philippine Army and the New People’s Army since the 1980’s, and the final battles of WW2 in July-August 1945.

Although the southern province of Sarangani is currently outside its area-of-responsibility, FSD sent survey and risk education teams to the area to help prevent a recurrence of such incidents.  Particular focus was given to 40mm grenades, the biggest cause of UXO accidents in Mindanao.  In an intense, 10-day MRE campaign, all barangays and schools in the Maasim municipality were covered.  The local TV network, ABS-CBN, also helped in spreading the risk education message.(Click Here..)

The FSD and Philippines Campaign to Ban Landmines (PCBL)’s Mine Action programme is funded under the European Union’s Instrument for Stability to support the Peace Process in Mindanao.