ZAMBOANGA CITY – Twenty-six loose firearms were turned over by local chief executives in Basilan to the military as part of the continued campaign against the proliferation of unlicensed guns through the Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) program.
The SALW program seeks to lessen, if not eradicate, small arms and light weapons and prevent crimes in the communities.
Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said Wednesday that the firearms were surrendered to the Joint Task Force (JTF)-Basilan by Tipo-Tipo Mayor Arcam Istarul and Maluso Mayor Hanie Bud.
Istarul, together with all municipal and barangay officials of Tipo-Tipo, signed a Memorandum of Understanding MOU on SALW on Monday at the covered court of Barangay Tipo-Tipo proper.
The signing was witnessed by Brig. Gen. Domingo Gobway, JTF-Basilan commander; Gov. Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman; Col. Rodrigo Maramo, police provincial director; and Lt. Col. Egverr Jonathan Abutin, 18th Infantry Battalion (IB) commander.
Bud had the signing the following day at their municipal hall with Gobway, Maramo, Basilan Provincial Administrator Manny Muarip, Lt. Col. Alex Ampati, the 4th Special Forces Battalion commander; and Lt. Col. Napoleon Pabon Jr., 68th IB commander.
Istarul handed over four caliber .30 M1 Garand rifles, one caliber .30 M2 Carbine rifle, one improvised shotgun, and one FN-FAL G1 rifle.
On the other hand, Bud surrendered five caliber .30 M1 Garand rifles, eight caliber .45 pistols, one 9mm KG9, two Shotguns, one caliber .38 pistol, and two M-79 grenade launchers.
The firearms were recovered by civilians.
Gobway noted that of the 11 municipalities and two component cities of Basilan, seven pledged their support for SALW and “we hope the others will follow soon”.
Other towns that back the program are Hadji Mohammad Ajul, Tabuan-Lasa, Lantawan, Akbar, and Tuburan.
Since January, JTF-Basilan has received 94 loose firearms, either handed over by the civilians during “rido” (family feud) settlement or by local officials.
“Our harmonious relationships with fellow peace-builders have gone a long way. I hope this will continue until the common goal is attained,” Vinluan said.
“Rest assured that the military will continue to employ the whole-of-nation approach in addressing terrorism and lawlessness here in Mindanao,” he added.
The implementation of the SALW program is an initiative of the national government, through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process and Joint Normalization Committee. (PNA)