Monday Sep, 23 2019 09:10:07 PM

Gun licensing amnesty program for BARMM recommended

Local News • 16:30 PM Sat Aug 24, 2019
John M. Unson

COTABATO CITY --- Peace advocates wants a firearm licensing amnesty for civilians in the Bangsamoro region to complement the decommissioning soon of Moro guerillas to restore normalcy in its provinces.

Records obtained from the Philippine National Police indicated that in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur provinces alone there more than 10,000 firearms in the hands of civilians whose licenses have either been revoked for non-renewal for a long time or are due for renewal.

Police and military officials placed at no less than 20,000 their estimate of the number of firearms in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with revoked or expired licenses.

The newly-created BARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

BARMM officials said Saturday the region’s chief minister, Hadji Ahod Ebrahim, is in favor of a region-wide firearm registration amnesty program for civilians in the Bangsamoro provinces and cities.

Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman, representative of the lone district of Basilan, on Saturday said he will help convince the PNP to embark on such program.

Hataman suggested, however, that the BARMM government work along with Police Major Ben Dimayong, chief for the Bangsamoro region of the  Regional Civil Security Unit in seeking the blessing of the PNP’s national headquarters for the proposal.

“We have a peace process and that is something good for the peace process,” Hataman said.

The MILF is set to start decommissioning in September thousands of its members in keeping with its peace deal with the national government.

“A firearm registration amnesty program for all sectors in the BARMM will be good for the peace process. The PNP and the military can account, through that process, all the licensed firearms and those with revoked and expired licenses in the hands of non-MILF members,” Hataman said.

Hataman’s political ally, the first-termer Maguindanao Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu, said he is also in favor of such a program.

Mangudadatu said it can hasten the bilateral efforts of the MILF and President Rodrigo Duterte to foster peace and sustainable development in BARMM’s core territory.

“It will be easier for the BARMM government, the PNP and the Armed Forces to keep tract of the firearms kept by non-MILF members,” Mangudadatu said.

There is a strong culture of love for guns among residents of BARMM, both as protection from adversarial clans and as status symbol.

“Having all firearms in the hands of civilians accounted for properly is good for the communities in BARMM,” Mangudadatu said.

Many mayors in BARMM, among them the popular non-Moro ethnic Teduray chieftain Ramon Piang of Upi town in Maguindanao, are as supportive.

Piang, a member of the government peace panel that crafted Malacañang’s peace accord with the MILF, said he will help compel members of his tribe to have their firearms listed by the PNP via a special registration amnesty program.

“That program can also boost the government’s crime-prevention efforts in all towns in the Bangsamoro region,” Piang said.


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