“It’s like my wife had left me,” said Datu Al Anzar Julkarnain as he handed over more than 20 assorted firearms to the military in Jolo, Sulu on March 6, 2018.
Julkarnain, village chair of Umangay in Patikul town, was among dozens of local government officials and residents who decided to part with some of their prized possessions.
“We are doing a great sacrifice here. It’s like seeing my wife leaving me. For us Tausug, no one is complete without a firearm; having a gun is like having a wife,” he said.
He also added that he had to think hard before surrendering his firearms. What he feared the most, he said, was his enemies might take advantage of him unarmed.
Like Julkarnain, Parang Mayor Madzfar Loong also surrendered 30 firearms that he and other town officials owned.
“As mayor of Parang, I take this move as one big sacrifice to better our place,” Loong said.
Loong believed that surrendering firearms, especially those in the hands of civilians, would reduce, if not stop, the violence in the province.
Talipao Mayor Nivukadnizar Tulawie and other town officials turned in 60 firearms.
“It was chance for us to voluntarily hand them over,” Tulawie said, adding that if they did not, authorities would eventually run after them.
According to Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu, 187 firearms were turned over by unlicensed gun holders in the province on March 6.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said the guns were surrendered by officials of Parang, Talipao, Indanan, Patikul, Jolo, and Maimbung.
He said this was the offshoot of President Duterte’s appeal to local officials to help gather unlicensed firearms and turn them over to authorities. Galvez, citing military estimates, said Sulu had about 28,000 loose firearms.
Sobejana said the officials’ cooperation was a major step in achieving peace in the province. “This is a milestone towards a gun-free Sulu,” he said.