By Francis Wakefield
Seven municipalities of Sulu, through their municipal and barangay officials, handed-over 187 firearms in a ceremony officiated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command on Tuesday.
Lt. Gen. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., AFP WestMinCom chief ,said municipal and barangay officials –from Talipao, Parang, Omar, Indanan, Maimbung, Jolo, and Patikul ,all in Sulu,turned-over at 10 a.m. nine M14 rifles, three 30 Caliber BAR rifles, nine M79 Grenade Launchers, 64 M16 rifles, three ARI5 rifles, 93 M1 Garand rifles, four M203 Grenade Launchers, and two Caliber 45 pistols.
“I am a witness to the bloodshed and ordeals of Suluanons. Now, the people of Sulu want tranquility and peace. With our platform, we are now seeing the trust and support of the mayors to the President and our soldiers,” Galvez said.
“This continuous campaign is a confidence-building measure that will not only breed harmony but peace and development here in the province and the whole Mindanao,” he added.
Talipao Mayor Nebukadnezar Tulawie surrendered 60 high and low-powered firearms, consisting of 41 M16 rifles, three ARIS rifles, 12 M1 Garand rifles, two M79 Grenade Launchers, one Bar, and one M14 rifle.
On the other hand, Parang Mayor Madzfar Loong and Omar Mayor Jusshin Muhammad yielded 63 high and low-powered firearms composed of a 30 Caliber rifle, 12 M16 rifles, 40 M1 Garand rifles, six M79 and one M203 Grenade Launchers, and three M14 rifles.
“We want to thank the President for declaring Martial Law in Mindanao because your campaign effectively implemented the gun control here in Sulu. We only have eight barangays that is why we only surrendered twelve firearms, but we will have more firearms from the civilians. Now, I can say that the municipality of Omar is one of the peaceful communities here in Sulu,” said Muhammad.
Maimbung Acting Vice Mayor Alliman Tan turned over 20 firearms composed of a 30 Caliber rifle, five M16 rifles, six M1 Garand rifles, two M203 Grenade Launchers, four M14 rifles, and two Caliber 45 pistols.
“What I see is that, this is a big leap for us here in Sulu. May this surrender resolve the conflicts because we also want peace and serenity here in our province. We hope that we can improve our partnership with the Army,” Tan said.
Busbus, Jolo Barangay Captain Rigduan Lindog also yielded 20 firearms consisting of four M16 rifles, fourteen M1 Garand rifles, an M203 Grenade Launcher, and an M14 rifle.
Indanan Mayor Hermont Jikiri and Vice Mayor Allan Jainal surrendered 24 firearms composed of two M16 rifles, twenty-one M1 Garand rifles, and an M79 Grenade Launcher.
“We support the program of the President because we know that this is not only for us Suluanons but for all of us,” Jikiri said in his message.
The ceremonial turnover of firearms was held at Kuta Teodulfo Bautista Gymnasium from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu, thanked and congratulated the chief executives of Sulu municipalities for supporting their “efforts to eradicate loose firearms, saying that “the President’s directive to return firearms that are sources of war is a good approach towards a gun free and peaceful province.”
“Today is a start of our journey towards making Sulu free from firearms since 187 were turned over to us by local officials,” he added.
“The Mayor of Pata Island Municipality was the first to voluntarily hand-over crew serve weapons and loose firearms from Sulu Province, and his act is worthy of emulation. I congratulate the rest of the Chief Executives who are here showing their full support in the government’s campaign to eradicate loose firearms,Sobejana said.”
From January 1 to March 6, 2018, a total of 616 loose firearms were recovered by the Joint Task Forces under the WestMinCom. Of this record, a total of 126 firearms were recovered and surrendered in Central Mindanao, 30 in ZamPeLan, 221 in Zamboanga City, and 239 in Sulu.