ZAMBOANGA CITY--Twenty-six assorted loose firearms were surrendered to government authorities by residents of Dimataling, Zamboanga del Sur, officials said Wednesday.
Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer, said the surrender of the firearms on Tuesday coincided with the graduation of 169 Persons Who Use Drugs and Substance (PWUDS) at the town's gymnasium.
The surrendered firearms were three M-14 rifles; one M-79 grenade launcher; one improvised M-16 rifle; eight homemade shotguns; eight caliber .38 revolvers; and, three caliber .45 pistols. Also surrendered were two rifle grenades.
Besana said the surrender of the unlicensed firearms was achieved through the joint efforts of the Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion, the police, and the municipal government of Dimataling.
Besana noted that town mayor Dolores Baya marked the surrender of firearms ceremony “as the start of a more peaceful Dimataling.”
“With your active participation, we could surely make it. Thank you for cooperation and let us continue to support our national campaign to collect your loose firearms in our areas,” he said quoting Baya as saying.
Col. Francisco Ariel Felicidario, Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade commander, has advised owners of loose firearms to surrender the guns and “don’t wait for (the conduct of) zoning.”
Felicidario said the prevailing mindset among residents associating guns with safety should be changed.
“If you know that you’re using drugs, surrender. Don’t wait for the police to come to your homes before you surrender. Go for rehabilitation,” he also told the 169 PWUDS, who attended the ceremony.
The 169 PWUDS has completed a rehabilitation training conducted jointly by concerned agencies of government.