By Julmunir I. Jannaral
CAMP NAVARRO, Calarian, Zamboanga City — An additional two municipalities of Basilan Province thus making it 5 municipalities in all to have expressed their support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on its Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) program of controlling the proliferation of loose firearms just to have a stable peace and order situation in the entire province.
Col. Alaric Avelino delos Santos, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) told the Philippine Muslim Today that the local chief executives of the municipalities of Akbar and Tuburan vowed to support the SALW Program of the government as a means to stop unauthorized civilians to own firearms since this will disturb more the stability of peace and order of Basilan.
Col. Santos said this is in addition to the three municipalities wherein their respective mayors already signed earlier a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the AFP pertaining to the arms reduction as implemented under the SALW program.
Of which the WestMimCom spokesman was referring to the local government officials of the municipalities of Hadji Mohammad Ajul; Tabuan-Lasa; and Lantawan that signed the SALW MoU last month.
According to WestMinCom Chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr., an MoU was signed by Akbar Mayor Alih Sali and Tuburan
Mayor Durie Kalahal at the Headquarters of 68th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Campo Uno, Lamitan City, Basilan last June 3.
Lt. Gen Vinluan said said the signing of the MoU was also witnessed by Basilan Governor Jim Hataman-Salliman and Joint Task Force Basilan Commander Brig. Gen. Domingo Gobway.
Brig. Gen. Gobway stressed the importance of the SALW program in achieving lasting peace and continuous development in the province of Basilan.
“This bold move is a great help in our effort to sustain peace for the peace-loving Basileños,” Brig. Gen. Gobway expressed.
Gov. Salliman, in his message, emphasized that the SALW Program is not a program of the province but an initiative of the national government through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) and Joint Normalization Committee (JNC).
“We should not politicize this SALW program. We should support this in order to lessen the number of crimes that are related to the proliferation of loose firearms,” the
During the activity, Mayor Sali handed over seven cal. 30 M1 Garand rifles, one M203 Grenade Launcher, and one M79 Grenade Launcher.
Meanwhile, Mayor Kalahal handed over seven loose firearms to 68IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Freddie Calosing at the unit headquarters at about 1 p.m. Friday, June 4.
Said activity was witnessed by 2nd Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro and Brig. Gen. Gobway.
Maj. Gen. Bacarro expressed his admiration for the unwavering support of the local government officials of Basilan to the military.
“I am astounded by the sincerity of the Basileños to support the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to end terrorism and insurgency here in Mindanao,” said Maj. Gen. Bacarro.
Turned over firearms include two cal. 5.56 rifles with M203 Grenade Launchers attached, two cal. 30 Garand rifles, one cal. 30 M2 Carbine with magazine and four live ammunition,
one M203 Grenade Launcher, and one M79 Grenade Launcher.
Joint Task Force Basilan received a total of 68 loose firearms since January 2021. Of the 68, 60 are high-powered and eight are low-powered firearms.
“This is a brilliant action that others should emulate to ease and hasten our campaign against terrorism and criminalities,” Lt. Gen. Vinluan, Jr. uttered.
“The armed forces fully support this program and through this, we expect an enhanced cooperation between and among peace advocates,” the WestMimCom commander added. JIJ