Marcos: Basilan an epicenter of peace

ZAMBOANGA. Basilan Governor Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman (right) presents to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. an M-60 light machine gun one of the loose firearms surrendered through the Small Arms and Light Weapons in the province. Marcos flew into Mahatalang village, Sumisip, Basilan and led the destruction of 550 firearms -- 311 high-powered and 239 low-powered -- on Saturday, March 2.
ZAMBOANGA. Basilan Governor Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman (right) presents to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. an M-60 light machine gun one of the loose firearms surrendered through the Small Arms and Light Weapons in the province. Marcos flew into Mahatalang village, Sumisip, Basilan and led the destruction of 550 firearms -- 311 high-powered and 239 low-powered -- on Saturday, March 2. (SunStar Zamboanga)

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. minced no words on Saturday, March 2, in declaring that this province once a ground zero of war is now turned into an epicenter of peace, where people from various faiths worked together and chose not to let diversity be a cause of division but a source of strength and solidarity.

Marcos made the declaration as he led the destruction and decommissioning of 550 loose firearms that were surrendered through the Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Management Program in Mahatalang village, a former bastion of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

The president flew in from Manila via Zamboanga City shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday, March 2, where Governor Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman presented to him the loose firearms -- 331 high-powered and 239 low-powered.

Among the high-powered firearms Salliman presented to Marcos is one of two M-60 light machine guns, which the President meticulously checked. The rest were rifles and handguns of different calibers.

After the formal presentation, a road-roller crashed loose firearms that were surrendered by ASG members, warring clans and private individuals. The destruction of the loose firearms was done in front of the "Kasanyangan" (Peace) Monument.

Marcos has commended the successful implementation SALW Management Program that resulted in the recovery, surrender of loose firearms that were destroyed on Saturday, March 2.

He described this province as beautiful, bountiful and breathtaking -- a province once tainted by violence and terrorism is now a zone of peace made possible not by military might but more so by people saying no to violence. 

“Peace is more than just a secession of hostilities. It is about the creation of a social order that values human dignity, improves lives, and promotes hopes,” Marcos said, adding: “peace is totally achieved not by the sound of gunfire has ended, it is where the clamor for better life has indexed.”

He said Basilan's kind of peace is where the depressing tally of the casualty of war has been replaced by the statistics of human development. 

“This is the kind of peace that draws strength from the free will of the people instead of commanding their allegiance by force,” he said.

Meanwhile, Marcos has recognized the efforts of the provincial government the leadership of Salliman, Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity, military, police, the community and religious leaders, including the volunteers for their hard work.

He also thanked the international partners and allies, particularly the United Nations, European Union, and the governments of Japan and Australia for their unending support to the pursuit of just and unequivocal peace.

Salliman could not help but be happy and proud of Basilan's achievement in eradicating loose firearms with the help of the military, police and other agencies coupled with the cooperation and support of the local government units, Basileños in general. 

He said the SALW program is being upgraded or leveled up through the support of the Japanese government under the Assistance for Security, Peace, Integration, and Recovery (Aspire) program for Advancing Human Security in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. 

The SALW program is aimed to: Reduce, if not eradicate; Restrict movement, and manage the number of loose firearms; and, prevent crimes in the communities. (SunStar Zamboanga)

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