BULDON, Maguindanao - Eighty-eight loose firearms were voluntarily surrendered by civilians in the Iranon area in Maguindanao.
The Iranon areas include Parang, Buldon, Barira and Matanog, where the local government of Buldon champions their ‘balik baril’ program.
Seventy-one high-powered firearms and 17 low-powered firearms were surrendered. These include home-made Barretts, M-16 rifles, M-14 rifles, garand rifles, M-203 rifles, and calibers .45 and .38 pistols.
Fifty-one of these firearms were from Buldon, where the ‘balik baril’ program emanated.
Buldon Mayor Abolais Manalao said this is in support of the loose firearms campaign of the police and military, especially now that Mindanao is under the martial rule.
This program will also lessen the problem of ‘rido’ caused by land and family feuds, which are common problems in this part of southern Philippines, he said.
“Sanhi ng kaguluhan 'di lang sa ating bayan kundi sa buong ARMM [Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao]. Ang loose firearms sanhi ng kaguluhan. Pangarap ko sa ating bayan ay bumalik tayo sa mapayapa at maunlad na bayan,” Manalao said.
He said the ‘balik baril’ program is a success as the ‘rido’ problem in the area has decreased.
The local government has also recorded around 200 firearms surrendered since they began settling ‘rido’.
The Iranon areas are under the 37th Infantry Battalion, which identified ‘rido’ as the number one peace and order problem. But with the strong leadership of local leaders in the campaign against loose firearms, ‘rido’ almost disappeared.
Matador Ibrahim, a local of Barangay Oring, surrendered his garand rifle.
For Matador, possessing a firearm means you get respect from other people, and it is also for self-protection and defense.
Though it has sentimental value to the family as it was owned before by his grandfather and passed down to their generation, he decided to hand the garand rifle over to the local government in exchange for a cow.
In the ‘balik baril’ program, civilians who will be surrendering their firearms to the local government will be given an adult cow.
This will help them elevate their livelihood, where they can breed cows and later on sell them to prospective buyers.
The government and the military plan to strengthen the ‘balik baril’ program and have it institutionalized so that it can be sustained.
They also envision the Iranon towns to be ‘gun-free’ municipalities.
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Mujiv Hataman pledged his support to the ‘balik baril’ program of the local government of Buldon.
Hataman said he will shoulder the 50 percent in the livelihood program for projects like cattle raising.
He also encouraged officials, police, and military to formulate a template on the ‘balik baril’ program and use Buldon as a model town.
Based on data of the Maguindanao Provincial Police Office, as of October of 2017, there were 8,435 loose firearms, including those not renewed and those in the hands of the general public, private armed groups, criminal gangs, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and other lawless elements in the Maguindanao.