Buluan, Maguindanao – The provincial government of Maguindanao provides livelihood and educational assistance to residents who surrendered loose firearms during the official launching of Balik Baril Program led by President Rodrigo Duterte here on Wednesday, April 25.
Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu said the assistance is in exchange for the surrendered loose firearms. Surrendering unlicensed firearms is in support of the national drive to end any form of violence in the country. In the launching, about 900 loose firearms were turned over to the government.
Also present during the event were Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman, Maguindanao’s municipal mayors and other local officials, and representatives from security agencies, barangay, civil society organizations, as well as from women and youth sector.
Gov. Mangudadatu said Maguindanaoans who surrendered their unregistered firearms will receive scholarship grant and P50,000 worth of livelihood assistance.The unregistered and high-powered guns turned over to the government were mostly from officials and civilians who were involved in ‘rido’ or clan feuds.
Official data from ARMM’s Regional Reconciliation and Unification Commission showed 588 cases of rido, or clan feuds, in the region from 2012 to 2018. The province of Maguindanao has 273 such cases, 54 of which remain unsettled.
“Walang mabuting idudulot ang pag gamit ng baril kaya mas mabuti pa i-surrender na ninyo yan,” President Duterte said during the event. In February this year, residents in the towns of Parang, Barira, Matanog, and Buldon first surrendered their unregistered and high-powered guns.
ARMM Gov. Hataman has encouraged other towns in the entire region to replicate the campaign. In support of the program, the ARMM government is already providing livelihood assistance to those who surrendered their unlicensed firearms.Residents and officials who are still illegally holding firearms were asked to voluntarily surrender so they will not be liable for charges of illegal possession of firearms.
“The regional government supports the campaign and we are encouraging other towns in the ARMM to surrender their unlicensed firearms,” Gov. Hataman said adding that violence in all forms should stop.
Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu stressed that possession of guns heightens the ego of gun holders. “This also increases their propensity to harm, or dominate, non-affluent people or groups. In most cases gun possessions lead to loss of lives, or limbs,” Gov. Mangudadatu added.
“Bilang chairman ng barangay namin talagang kinakausap ko po lahat ng mga residente na isuko ang mga baril. At leastngayon kapag nag surrender ka, may tulong pang ibibigay ang gobyerno,” Nor Samilon, barangay chief of East Libutan, Mamasapano, said.
To combat terrorism across the region, the ARMM government also launched this month the Program Against Violent Extremism, the regional government’s first model program in providing various interventions to former Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members who surrendered to the government.
Four rebel returnees from Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters also received livelihood assistance during Wednesday’s program led by President Duterte. Meanwhile, latest government data showed the number of returnees from the ASG as follows:
Basilan – 139;
Sulu – 61; and
Tawi-Tawi – 23.
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