CAMP SANG-AN, ZDS – The local chief executives of Basilan handed over more than 200 loose firearms to the military as a result of the Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Program in the province.
The SALW program was launched in April this year to minimize, if not eradicate, loose firearms in the province of Basilan and to restrict the movement and manage the number of loose firearms in communities.
The city and barangay officials of Lamitan expressed their support to the SALW program by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with other government officials on Monday, July 19, at the City Gymnasium in Brgy. Maganda.
The event was made possible through the convergence of efforts of Basilan Governor Jim Hataman-Salliman, Joint Task Force Basilan Commander Brig. Gen. Domingo Gobway, Basilan Provincial Police Office Director Police Col. Rodrigo Maramo, and 68th Infantry Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Napoleon Pabon, Jr.
“We will continue to implement this initiative to assist the local government units in keeping the peace and order here in Basilan amid the health crisis we are still experiencing,” said Brig. Gen. Domingo Gobway, the 101st Infantry Brigade commander.
Among the 204 firearms gained from the SALW program, 54 were surrendered by the civilians from Lamitan City, 34 from the municipality of Sumisip, 23 from Hadji Mohammad Ajul, 19 from Maluso, 15 from Ungkaya Pukan, 12 from Tuburan, 11 from Hadji Muhtamad, nine from Akbar, nine from Al-Barka, seven from Tipo-Tipo, seven from Tabuan-Lasa, and four from Lantawan.
During the event, Lt. Col. Pabon, together with Mayor and Vice Mayor Furigay, presented 54 more loose firearms that include 16 12-gauge shotguns, three M1 Carbine, one M16 rifle, four Garand rifles, three M203 Grenade Launchers, one M19 Grenade Launcher, one M79 Grenade Launcher, two caliber .22 revolvers, four KG9 pistols, sixteen caliber .38 revolvers, and three caliber .45 pistols. Civilians from the different barangays of Lamitan City voluntarily surrendered said firearms.
Maj. Gen. Gene M. Ponio, the 1ID Commander and concurrent Commander of the JTF ZAMPELAN, acknowledged the efforts of the military troops on the ground as more and more loose firearms were voluntarily surrendered due to the successful talks with the locals.
“Our fight for peace and development is almost over,” said Gen. Ponio. “We have seen how our local residents have responded. Expect an increase of rebel surrenderees and the turnover of more loose firearms in the coming days.”
With the involvement of the whole Filipino nation, the national and local government, civil society organizations, and all the Filipinos in addressing peace and military concerns, the country will win the peace.