ALI G. MACABALANG
The Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID) has staged another leg of ceremonial destruction of loose firearms mustered from its area of jurisdiction, destroying this time 242 undocumented guns from Maguindanao.
Maj. Gen. Juvymax R. Uy, incumbent 6ID commander, used one unit of giant road roller from the 549th Engineering Batallion to “demilitarize” or destroy the mostly home-made firearms in public ceremony on Oct. 24 at the open area of his command headquarters in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.
The flattened remains of the firearms “were then cut by the personnel from the 12th Forward Service Support Unit using circular saws and subsequently burned to ensure that no part of the firearms would be re-used or recycled,” the Western Mindanao Command (WMC) said in a statement emailed to the Philippine Muslim Today.
The spectacular ceremony was witnessed by peace stakeholders and local media practitioners alongside WMC Chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. and Philippine Army Chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana.
“To the people of Central Mindanao, you are the key to inclusive and genuine peace. Terrorism cannot be defeated solely by the Army. We need your active involvement,” Gen. Sobejana said in his ceremonial message.
The ceremony was the third episode of symbolic road roller-running over of loose firearms collected or captured from Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato and parts of Lanao del Sur by personnel of the 6ID.
Close to 1,500 loose firearms were destroyed in two similar “demilitarization” processes by past 6ID commanders, according to accounts by the Kampilan Press Corps. This writer has presided over the press corps for six years.
Most of the “demilitarized” guns came from Maguindanao, the known haven of the outlawed Bangdamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
The military tags Maguindanao as one of Bangsamoro provinces still reeling from presence of terrorist elements. The other provinces are Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, where guerillas of the terror-bound Abu Sayyaf operate.
The firearms that were “demilitarized” on Oct. 24 were “recovered through the concerted efforts and dedication of the Joint Task Force Central troopers, the local government units, and communities altogether fighting against terrorism and criminalities in Central Mindanao,” the WMC statement said.
Gen. Vinluan commended the JTF Central for its “unwavering support and service to ensure the peace and safety of the people in the region.” (AGM)