MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday witnessed the destruction of firearms seized from Islamic State-inspired extremists during the 5-month siege in Marawi City.
A total of 652 weapons that were either captured, confiscated, surrendered or recovered from Maute terrorists were destroyed at the Philippine Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
A road roller vehicle flattened machine guns, squad automatic weapons, rifle propelled grenade launchers, sniper rifles, M16 rifles, shotguns and airguns. They were then cut into pieces using a metal bond circular saw.
“The demilitarization of the... enemy weapons aims to demonstrate the government’s resolve to fight and defeat terrorism in the country,” Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson said in a statement.
“The weapons were destroyed to ensure that these can be rendered ineffective for use as a component or a complete firearm,” he added.
The military said all destroyed firearms will later be burned. Metal residues and scrap will be properly kept for final disposal in accordance with the Armed Forces’ policies and directives, Tiongson said.
The President earlier said almost 2,000 weapons were seized in more than 800 armed encounters under the leadership of then Armed Forces chief Eduardo Año.
Duterte witnessed the destruction of the Marawi firearms just as Congress approved his request to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year.
Duterte first declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, when gun battles between government troops and Islamic State-linked terrorists erupted in Marawi City. In July, upon the lapse of the initial 60-day declaration, Congress extended it to Dec. 31 on Duterte's request.
Over 1,100 people, mostly Islamic State-inspired terrorists, were killed in the siege, which also displaced over 300,000 residents from the city considered as the center of Islamic faith in Mindanao. -- with reports from Pia Gutierrez