Sulu town officials, folks continue to yield arms

ZAMBOANGA CITY  Military officials in the province of Sulu are optimistic that the other elected officials and residents will follow the footstep of a town mayor who voluntarily surrendered their unlicensed guns to the government authorities.

This was the statement of Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, after Mayor Anton Burahan of the island town of Pata and his barangay heads surrendered assorted high-powered firearms to his command.

Pata, which comprises of 14 barangays, is a fifth class town in the province of Sulu with a population of 22,163 base on the 2015 census.

The island is a four-hour ride by motorboat from and to the Sulu mainland.

“I am optimistic that they (other elected officials) will also surrender their high-powered firearms or any firearms for that matter so that this place will become a gun-free province,” Sobejana told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.

“I am pleased by the action of Mayor Anton Burahan and other officials and residents of Pata, Sulu of voluntarily surrendering their loose firearms. The commendable action of a local chief executive and responsible citizens of Pata may serve as example for other government officials and residents here in the province of Sulu and the whole of Mindanao so that the road to peace is realized,”Sobejana said.

Col. Armel Tolato, Philippine Marine Ready Force-Sulu commander, said among the high-powered firearms Burahan and his barangay chairpersons have surrendered on Feb. 2 included three 81-mm mortars; one 90-mm Recoilless Rifle; and, caliber .50 machinegun.

The other firearms were three M-14 rifles; three M-16 Armalite rifles; and, hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Tolato said that 17 more assorted high-powered firearms were surrendered to the Marine Battalion Landing Team-1 (MBLT-1) detachment in Pata town after February 2. (PNA)