PIAGAPO, Lanao del Sur -- Forty-three assorted high-powered firearms were turned over to the military in a ceremony held in Piagapo town, Lanao del Sur Friday, March 16.
With town mayor Ali Sumandar and barangay officials from 32 villages looking on, Major General Roseller Murillo, commanding general of the Army’s 1st Infantry Tabak Division and other high ranking military officials received the armaments from civilians of Piagapo town.
"We have an estimated 20,000 loose firearms in Lanao del Sur and Marawi City, 2000 of which were already in the military's possession at the height of Marawi seige. We have 18,000 more to look into," Murillo said.
Murillo said helicopters dropped leaflets over Lanao del Sur towns last week urging civilians who have unlicensed firearms to turn these over to the military or else “the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will take action".
Among the high-powered firearms surrendered are a .50 caliber Barrett, recoilless propelled grenade and ammunition, an Ultimax, an M16 rifle, and assorted ammunition.
Sumandar said the turnover of the firearms was a voluntary action on the part of the civilians for lasting peace and the development of the municipality.
"This is just the start of the development process with the support of 51st Infantry Battalion, 1st Scout Ranger Battalion, and 82nd IB under 103rd Army Brigade in Kampo Ranao," Sumandar said.
The military said Piagapo was once a training ground of Islamic State pf Iraq and Syria-Maute terrorists but the place was neutralized by state forces in operations last year.