CAGAYAN DE ORO City, April 26, 2011â€”The Armed Forces of the Philippinesâ€™ (AFP) Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) and the Philippine Armyâ€™s 4th Infantry â€œDiamondâ€ Division destroyed Tuesday non-standard firearms used by rebels in a short demilitarization program at the 10th Forward Service Support Unit inside Camp Edilberto Evangelista.
Capt. Romeo Santiago O. Nebres, EastMinCom deputy commander, led the demilitarization of at least 96 non-standard firearms. He was assisted by 10FSSU commander Col. Raul Azcueta and Col. Antonio Tayag, assistant chief of the Unified Command Staff for Logistics (U4).
Among those demilitarized were a Caliber 50 Barret (HM), rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher, M79 rifles, shotguns, and several home-made handguns (paltik).
â€œThese are the tangible result of the operations of our men in the field against the enemies of the state,â€ Nebres said.
He explained that the firearms were demilitarized (cut into several pieces using a revolving saw to render it unusable) because â€œthese are non-standard firearms and canâ€™t be put back into the supply chain.â€
The 96 firearms were just a part of at least 200 firearms of various calibers the different units of the 4th ID recovered since last year.
Azcueta said that some of the firearms were captured during encounters with the New Peopleâ€™s Army (NPA) while others were surrendered by rebels who returned to the folds of the law.
Nebres said that the firearms also signified the â€œsignificant decreaseâ€ in the number of Maoist rebels fighting the government.
â€œIf we go by the statistics, there really is a significant decline in their fighting force because a number of their top-ranking leaders and officials and guerrillas have already surrendered and are now living lives helping the government,â€ he said.
He also urged rebels still hiding in the mountains to lay down their arms and return to mainstream society.
â€œWe are reaching out to our brothers and sisters still fighting against the government. Please return to the folds of the law. Letâ€™s sit down and talk our differences. We need not fight and kill each other. We are all Filipinos here,â€ he said.
Nebres also said that the decades-old communist insurgency is one of the factors why the Philippines have been overtaken in development by its neighbors in Asia.
â€œThis conflict has been hindering us from developing. This is very counter-productive,â€ he added. (Bong D. Fabe)