By Malu Cadelina Manar
KIDAPAWAN CITY – At least 250 ‘loose’ firearms from four towns in North Cotabato were turned over to the Army’s 602nd Brigade of the 6th Infantry Division in a simple ceremony held Thursday at the provincial capitol gym here.
Army’s 6th ID commander, Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, said several of the guns were M14, M16 armalite rifles, M79 grenade launchers, shotguns, and others.
The guns were handed over to the Army by residents coming from the towns of Pigcawayan, Libungan, Aleosan, and Kabacan, all under the area-of-responsibility of the 602nd Brigade.
The turnover was witnessed by Cotabato Governor Lala Talino-Mendoza who warned that residents in her province who are still holding unlicensed firearms have only until July 31 to surrender their guns to authorities.
“Otherwise, our authorities will have to conduct punitive actions against those who refused to heed to our calls,” said the governor.
General Sobejana explained the guns that were yielded to them by these gun holders had no cash equivalent.
“These gun holders do not belong to any threat or rebel groups operating in our province. So this is different from the government’s Comprehensive Livelihood Integrated Program. We did not pay them for the guns they turned over to us,” said the general.
Since January, close to a thousand guns were surrendered to the Army in North Cotabato.
In Matalam, at least 131 loose guns were yielded to the Army; M’lang, 150; Pikit, 130; Carmen, 135; Magpet, 109; Makilala, 65; and the latest, 250 from towns of Pigcawayan, Libungan, Aleosan, and Kabacan.
Sobejana said he expects more unlicensed guns to be turned over to them before the deadline.
Sobejana said loose guns were already turned over in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, adding, “This is just the beginning. We will continue our campaign against loose firearms in our areas of responsibility.
Meantime, Sobejana said that few of the guns presented to media and the public on Thursday were considered ‘vintage’ or those used during World War 2 but were still ‘serviceable’ or can kill, he explained.
He planned to place these ‘vintage’ guns in museums so that the public will gain knowledge as to the kinds of war materials that were used in Mindanao during the Second World War.