SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: For the Moro, owning more than one gun is not only a “status symbol” but also a necessity — for self-defense and to protect his property against lawless elements.
Thus, owning guns, whether legally or illegally, remains prevalent today in the same manner that Moros are legally allowed to have four wives as long as they give all of them equal financial support.
But, considering that Mindanao is under martial law until the end of the year, Magundanao residents have begun to regard gun ownership in a new light and are supporting the military’s campaign against loose firearms.
On Monday, Maguindanaoans started surrendering their loose firearms to the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6th ID) based in Camp Siongco, Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat.
“The military’s intensified campaign against loose firearms continues and has earned the public support of local officials and residents of Maguindanao,” Major Gen. Arnel dela Vega, commander of the 6th ID and Task Force Central said.
Residents and a member of a private army in Maguindanao surrendered at least nine high-powered firearms with magazines and ammunition to the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion stationed in Datu Salibo.
The battalion is under the 601st Infantry Brigade.
Quiapo Dalandas, chairman of Barangay Damabalas, Datu Piang, voluntarily turned over one locally made caliber 50 sniper rifle and two US caliber M1 Garand rifles modified into caliber 7.62 M-14 rifles.
Edris Sindatok, chairman of Barangay Madia, in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, handed over one US caliber-30 M1 Garand rifle modified into 7.62 M14 rifle and one US 5.56 Colt M16 rifle.
Mantila Tambak of Task Force Itihad (Unity) of Barangay Ambadao, Datu Piang, surrendered one US caliber 30 M1 Garand rifle and one US caliber 5.56 Elisco M16 rifle.
Meanwhile, Abe Andal, reportedly a member of a private army, yielded one US caliber 5.56 Elisco M-16 rifle with attached locally made M203.
Brig. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, 601st Brigade commander, told the residents: “I appreciate your commendable action and genuine gesture in giving up your firearms,” even as he encouraged other Maguindanaoans who are still illegally bearing firearms to voluntarily surrender so that they will not be liable for charges of illegal possession of loose firearms.