THE number of loose firearms the government has recovered through the Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) program has increased to 314, as the implementation of the program was expanded to the province of Tawi-Tawi.

About 70 loose firearms were surrendered in two Tawi-Tawi towns, as the government launched Sunday, August 22, the SALW program in the province, said Police Colone Bonard Briton, Tawi-Tawi provincial police director.

The remaining 244 loose firearms were recovered in Basilan, where the program was first implemented, with the full support of the government officials in its two cities and 11 towns.

The program aims to eradicate the use and trade of loose firearms that can cause violence and harm to the community through inventory and surrender of loose firearms in exchange for livelihood packages and scholarship grants.

Briton said the surrendered firearms came from the municipalities of Languyan and Sapa-Sapa. These were surrendered when the program was launched Sunday, August 22, in Bongao, the capital of Tawi-Tawi.

The firearms were surrendered by the residents of the two towns through the efforts of Languyan Mayor Abduhasan Sali and Lieuteannt Aldin Nurhussion, the town's police chief, as well as Sapa-Sapa Mayor Rhodesia Sali and Major Winston Botengan, the municipal police chief.

The program was launched in collaboration with Ariel Hernandez, Joint Normalization Committee chairperson of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the Provincial Government of Tawi-Tawi headed by Governor Yshmael Sali.

The launching of the SALW program in Tawi-Tawi was witnessed by Colonel Romeo Racadio, 2nd Marine Brigade commander; Provincial Government officials; and residents who surrendered their firearms.

Briton extended his gratitude to the individuals behind the success of the activity and highlighted the drastic impact of SALW program to the peace and order situation of the province of Tawi-Tawi. (SunStar Zamboanga)