ZAMBOANGA CITY — The city government turned over 157 assorted firearms to the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) in compliance with the campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte against loose firearms.
The firearms were presented to Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Westmincom chief, by Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar in a ceremony on Wednesday afternoon at Westmincom’s gymnasium.
The turnover was witnessed by military, police and some barangay officials of this city’s 98 villages.
“Barangay officials from Arena Blanco, Tigtabon, Mercedes, and Cabaluay yielded the firearms to military and police units as an offshoot of the sustained campaign against the proliferation of unregistered and loose firearms,” Col. Leonel Nicolas, Joint Task Force Zamboanga commander, said.
Of the 157 surrendered firearms, Salazar turned over 29 consisting of 28 caliber .30 M1 Garand rifles and a 66-mm HE Rocket Launcher.
Sixteen of the 29 firearms are caliber .30 M1 Garand rifles that were surrendered to the Army’s 11th Infantry Battalion headed by Lt. Col. Rolando Gomez; eight to the Marine Battalion Landing Team-11 (MBLT-11) led by Lt. Col. Michael Ariel Delos Reyes; and, the Rocket Launcher to the Joint Task Force Zamboanga.
The remaining 128 were presented by the Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO). These consisted of the following: 92 shotguns; one M-16 Armalite rifle; 15 9-mm pistols; eight revolvers; 11 caliber .45 pistols; and, a caliber .22 pistol.
“The Philippine National Police (PNP) recorded a total of 29,480 loose firearms as of this moment, but because of the implementation of Republic Act No. 10591, there are only 25,245 firearms left,” said Senior Supt. Narciso Verdadero, assistant deputy director for operations of the Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9).
“We believe that these loose firearms were used in different forms,” said Verdadero, who represented Chief Supt. Billy Beltran, PRO-9 director.
“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 police,” Salazar said during the turnover of the firearms.
“On behalf of our barangay officials, I want to extend my gratitude to Lt. Gen. Galvez for ensuring the security of Zamboanga City,” she added.
Galvez said Westmincom extended its sincerest gratitude and compliments to the local officials for putting their trust in the armed forces as the Westmincom takes strides to neutralize loose firearms and disarm armed groups in the Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi (ZamBaSulTa) areas.
Galvez said the turnover of the 157 guns brought to 257 the total number of loose firearms recovered by the different units of Westmincom since January 1 until Wednesday, February 21.
Of the 257 firearms, 52 were surrendered by municipal and barangay officials in Sulu; 30 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, 157 were turned over Wednesday in this city.
In line with the pronouncement of President Duterte, Galvez said the campaign against loose firearms was launched by the Westmincom units to implement the Security, Governance and Development Strategies of Martial Law in Mindanao.
“We urge other officials and residents to do the same in order to free communities from these vehicles of violence,” Galvez said.
“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,” he added. (PNA)