‘We are tired of war’– Lanao del Norte mayor
UNAI, Lanao del Norte – For this town’s mayor, Casan Maquiling, the constant fear of violence and war is rooted in the thousands of loose firearms that are in the hands of criminal groups and even the civilian populace.
“For us here in Munai, we are all very tired of war,” Maquiling said during the turnover of some 30 high-powered firearms, which were formally in the hands of the populace, to the Fifth Mechanized Infantry Battalion (5th Mech) last Friday.
Maquiling said his townsfolk decided to turn over the firearms through the “balik baril” program instituted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Among the firearms surrendered were a caliber-50 sniper rifle, three caliber-30 Browning automatic rifles, seven M14 rifles, 15 M16 rifles, and four M653 Carbines.
“This is different where civilian individuals voluntarily turn over their firearms to the AFP,” he noted.
Maquiling said it was his belief that the only way to eradicate criminal activities, resolve problems about peace and order, would be to surrender all loose firearms to authorities.
Munai now stands as among the first municipalities to respond to the call of the government to take part in its “balik baril” program.
The turn-over ceremony was witnessed by Maj. General Roseller G. Murillo, commander of the Joint Task Force Zampelan, and Second Mechanized Infantry Brigade Commander Col. Robert C. Dauz, who is also the commander of the Joint Task Group Lanao del Norte.
Dauz said the loose firearms that have been turned over will be gathered at the 5th Mech headquarters before they are brought to brigade headquarters for possible presentation to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
In Lanao del Norte alone, Dauz said there are an extimated 6,000 to 7,000 more loose firearms.