AFP recovers loose firearms from civilians in Sulu

THE military’s twin campaigns against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the recovery of loose firearms in the hands of civilians in Sulu are continuing to gather steam as more firearms were surrendered to troops over the weekend.

Marine Spokesman Capt. Maria Rowena Dalmacio said five residents of Barangay Kiput, Pata, Sulu, turned over firearms to members of the Philippine Marines Ready Force—Sulu under Col. Armel Totalo.

The surrender of firearms to the 31st Marine Company of Marine Battalion Landing Team 1 stationed at Barangay Saimbangon, Pata, was facilitated by Barley Sahid, barangay chairman of Kiput.

The loose firearms that were yielded included three M16 rifles with five magazines and 104 rounds of ammunition and two pieces of M1 Garand rifles with four clips and 29 rounds of ammunition.

The turnover of firearms last Saturday followed the surrender of high-powered firearms to Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana by the local officials of Pata, headed by Mayor Anton Burahan, and even by other officials.

Sobejana said among those surrendered were three 81mm mortar tubes, a 90rr and a  cal .50 barrel; four M16 rifles,  M14 rifles, five Garand rifles; and one M-79 grenade launcher.

It also included 149 rounds of M16 ammunition, 176 rounds of cal. 30 machinegun and round for 40mm, six pieces magazine clips for M16, six magazines for M14 and 27 clips for Garand.

“The genuine gesture of Mayor Burahan and his constituents in giving up voluntarily their war materiel can be a good example to all other government officials and the Tausogs as a whole, who are bearing arms illegally,” said Sobejana, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu.

“The surrender is brought about by the relentless campaign of JTF Sulu against illegally possessed firearms. It is really our goal to make Sulu a gun-free province,” he added.

Last Wednesday Marine personnel also recovered several firearms and ammunition ay Barangay Pisak Pisak, also in Pata following the surrender of ASG members.

Two days before that, Marine elements accepted the surrender of ASG members, who brought along with them weapons that included a cal. 50 machine gun, 150 rounds of cal. 50 ammunition, a base plate of 81mm mortar, a bi-pod of 81mm mortar, a tripod of cal. 50, eight 81mm mortar ammunition, four ammunition for 90rr and 50 rounds of 60mm mortars ammunition.

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Rene P. Acosta covers defense, law enforcement and national security for the paper. He had written for a number of publications, including abroad before he joined BusinessMirror. His works had appeared in the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Asia Pacific Defense Forum, both in the US. He took up regional security with the International Visitor Leadership Program, US. He is currently the chairman of the board of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines which he had headed in 2009.