PARANG, Maguindanao, Philippines—The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is so notorious for looses firearms a campaign against illegal firearms has become one of the regional government’s priorities.
But since the gun ban being implemented in connection with the general voter registration took effect on July 1 the authorities acknowledge they have confiscated only one weapon.
Col. Cesar Marlon Yadao, commanding officer of the 51st Infantry Battalion, said his men seized an M-14 rifle from one of the armed civilians involved in a family feud in Barangay Porug in Pualas, Lanao del Sur, eary this week.
Yadao said they were trying to disarm other individuals involved in the feud and were helping the police implement the gun ban by setting up checkpoints.
With the gun ban in place ahead of Monday’s general re-registration of voters in the region, the police suspended permits to carry firearms outside of residences issued to civilian gun owners, according to Supt. Junival Ngolab, community relations director of the ARMM police office.
Ngolab said more police checkpoints were set up in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in connection with the gun ban.
“The PNP ARMM has also embarked on massive information dissemination on the gun ban to ensure a peaceful and orderly general list up next week,” he said. “The total gun ban will be lifted, depending on the situation on the ground, on July 23.”
In line with the gun ban, only members of the PNP, the Armed Forces and other law enforcement agencies on official duty and attired in in the proper uniforms are allowed to carry firearms
Ngolab said the suspension of permits to carry guns outside of residence was also aimed at preventing armed partisan groups and private armed groups of local politicians from disrupting the conduct of the voter registration.
When he became Acting ARMM governor last December, Mujiv Hataman made the campaign against loose firearms one of his priorities.
Hataman said the region “is very rich in loose firearms, including those in the hands of Moro rebels.”
He cited military and police estimates placing the number of loose firearms in the ARMM at 40,000.