AUTHORITIES in Medellin had always known that the northern town’s Dagusungan River harbored a secret.
Years back, residents had retrieved the turret for what appeared to be an American M5A1 Stuart Light Tank from World War 2.
There had been several attempts over the last 40 years to salvage the body of the vehicle, but it wasn’t until Saturday, March 7, 2020, that members of the 53rd Engineering Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) led by Capt. Czar Guitering, with the help of the Bureau of Fire Protection and local police, were able to pull out the rest of the tank.
Photos of the two-day operation were posted on the social media site Facebook.
Mayor Benjun Mondigo said it took that long since they had to wait for low tide.
In 2018, the AFP made an attempt to salvage the tank, but failed.
“At first, the backhoe got buried. Then the other heavy equipment almost sank. So we had to come up with a strategy. We came up with the idea of placing huge boulders along the banks of the river so the heavy equipment could reach the sight without falling into the water,” Mondigo said in Cebuano.
The light tank had tried to cross the bridge that spanned the river when it got hit by Japanese artillery fire and fell. Over the years, the elements had taken their toll. Mud had covered the vehicle’s rusted armored body.
Mondigo said the tank will remain near the area where it was pulled out.
“The tank is a historical relic. That’s why we intend to leave it here. Not only will it serve as a tourist attraction, it will also promote the town’s heritage. The tank should serve as a testament to war and a reminder of what happened in Medellin during World War 2,” the mayor said in Cebuano.
Medellin has been coordinating with the Provincial Heritage Office for guidance and additional information on the light tank.
The town is not discounting the possibility that similar World War 2 relics may be waiting to be discovered in the vicinity.
Soldiers have washed the mud off the tank and cordoned it off inside a tent.
“We’re really happy with the development since it will boost the town’s tourism. That’s why we are asking the Province for assistance on how to handle it,” Mondigo said in Cebuano. (ANV / PJB)