OFFICIALS and residents of Piagapo town in Lanao del Sur province have surrendered 43 high-powered firearms to the military recently, officials disclosed.

The firearms were turned over by Piagapo Mayor Ali Sumandar on Wednesday to Major General Roseller Murillo, Army’s 1st Infantry Division commander.

“Our soldiers under the 51st Infantry Battalion headed by Lieutenant Colonel Gremel Brual, in partnership with the local officials of Piagapo, had been campaigning and convincing those who are keeping loose firearms to turnover the armaments to the military the soonest, since if they do not do so, said firearms will be confiscated from them,” Murillo said.

Piagapo is known to be the area where the Maute brothers trained their followers since 2016. The town is also the subject of series of military operations targetting the Maute terrorists group who have managed to establish an encampment in the area.

“We believe that if we are not able to get hold of these guns, these might be used to sow fear, terror and devastation to the innocent people,” Murillo said.

The firearms that were turned over include one Minimi 5.56-mm Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW); one Ultimax 5.56-mm SAW; one Rocket Propelled Grenade with 1 ammunition; one Barret Caliber .50; seven caliber 5.56-mm M-16 Armalite rifles (two with attached M-203 grenade launchers); six caliber 7.62-mm M-14 rifles; 12 M16A1 5.56-mm rifles; five M653 caliber 5.56-mm rifles; one Brawning Automatic Rifle (BAR); one M-79 grenade launcher; one M2 Carbine rifle; one Tompson 9-mm; one Uzi 9-mm; one caliber .45 pistol; and, three KG 9-mm.

Murillo said the firearms were taken to the headquarters of the 1st Infantry Division and will subsequently be turned over to the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) headquarters.

“Our troops will continually work to get all loose firearms in order to ensure that the remnants of the Maute Group could no longer reconstitute. We all know that it is in Piagapo that the Maute terror Group started to indoctrinate and train, that is why we want to cut the possibility that they use the area again,” Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, Jr., Westmincomm chief, said.