PATIKUL, Sulu - Local chief executives of Sulu handed over on Monday hundreds of loose firearms to President Rodrigo Duterte in Barangay Bangkal, Patikul, Sulu.
A total of 652 loose firearms were surrendered to the government by residents of the different towns of Sulu.
Among the firearms turned over were M1 Garand rifles, M-16 rifles, M-14 rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers, 81-millimeter and 60-millimeter mortars, Barrett sniper rifle, carbine, AK-47 shotgun, and calibre .45 and .38 pistols.
Task Force Sulu Commander Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana said the loose firearms handed over to the president is only 10 percent of the total number of loose firearms in the province.
Sobejana estimated that there are at least 8,200 loose firearms in the province, excluding those owned by rebels.
"They agree, kung walang loose firearms dito, it will significantly reduce the crime rate," Sobejana said. He believes most of the crimes in Sulu are perpetrated using loose firearms.
The military employed diplomatic mentoring to encourage local chief executives to turn over their undocumented firearms in line with Duterte's campaign against criminality.
Meanwhile, 76 Abu Sayyaf surrenderers were also presented to the president during the activity.
The rebels also surrendered a total of 205 assorted firearms to the government.
In his speech, Duterte repeatedly emphasized he is not mad at the Abu Sayyaf Group.
"Wala akong galit sa Abu Sayyaf. Naiintindihan ko nasa loob niyo," he said.
Duterte personally came to Sulu to check if the surrenderers are treated equally with rebel returnees from the New People's Army.
He also asked them to give him two years to fulfill his promise of housing projects for them.
In the presence of local chief executives, Duterte also said he cannot give them jurisdiction over the proposed creation of regional armed forces and regional police, as these two must always remain under the commander-in-chief.
The president, likewise, asked their opinion on the proposed creation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan II admitted that he prefers federalism over BBL.
"Gusto namin federalism over BBL, kasi tingin namin walang pagkakaiba ang existing regional government ngayon sa gagawing Bangsamoro government. Kung meron man, konting-konti lang," Tan said.