The government’s intensified campaign against the proliferation of unregistered and loose firearms, particularly in Mindanao, continued to gain ground after local officials in Zamboanga City surrendered 157 loose firearms to the military.
No less than Zamboanga City Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar led the hand-over of the high-powered firearms to Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., in simple rites in Camp Navarro, Calarian town at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of Western Mindanao Command, said the firearms were part of the guns from four village officials in Zamboanga City whom they turned over to Col. Leonel Nicolas, commander of Task Force Zamboanga.
“Barangay officials from Arena Blanco, Tigtabon, Mercedes, and Cabaluay yielded the said firearms to military and police units as an offshoot of the sustained campaign against the proliferation of unregistered and loose firearms,” Petinglay said.
Pentinglay said turned over were 29 firearms composed of 16 caliber of 30 Garand riles, 8 M1 Garand rifles, 4 M1 Garand rifles and a 66MM rocket launcher.
“We are just here to show our commitment and support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. This turnover only showcases the success of the cooperation between the military and the police,” said Climaco-Salazar in her short message during the turnover rites.
“On behalf of our barangay officials, I want to extend my gratitude to Lieutenant Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. for ensuring the security of Zamboanga City,” Climaco-Salazar added.
For his part, Westmincom chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez lauded the mayor’s commitment and support to the AFP to stop the proliferation of loose firearms within her jurisdiction.
“The Western Mindanao Command extends its sincerest gratitude and compliments to the local officials present here today, headed by Hon. Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Zalazar, for putting their trust in the armed forces as the Westmincom seeks to neutralize loose firearms and disarm armed groups in Zamboanga-Basilan-Sulu and Tawi-Tawi [ZamBasulTa] area,” Galvez said.
The surrendered firearms brings to 257 the total number of loose guns recovered by the military in joint operations from January to February this year.
Of the 257 firearms recovered this year, fifty-two were surrendered by municipal and barangay officials in Sulu; thirty were surrendered by former warring clans after Rido settlements in Marawi City; nine were recovered by the troops following a law enforcement support operation in Lanao del Sur; nine were surrendered by local officials in Maguindanao and the 157 turned over on Thursday in Zamboanga City.
The campaign, Petinglay said, is in consonance with President Duterte directive to recover loose firearms launched by the Joint Task Forces to implement the Security, Governance and Development Strategies of Martial Law in Mindanao.
“We would like to urge other officials and residents to do the same in order to free communities from these vehicles of violence.”
“If Zamboanga City can do their share of commitment to a peaceful community, I am also sure the others in ZamBaSulTa can also do the same,” added LtGen Galvez.