6 Maguindanao drug suspects surrender, turn in 5 firearms

An Army battalion commander here presented Monday six suspected drug personalities who surrendered and vowed to become law abiding citizens.

During simple ceremonies held at the town's covered court, Lt. Col. Elmer M. Boongaling, head of the Army's 33rd Infantry Battalion, presented the former drug personalities and their surrendered firearms to Col. Jose H. Narciso, commander of the 601st Infantry Brigade, and Col. Arnold Santiago, Maguindanao police provincial director.

Rajah Buayan Mayor Yacob Ampatuan and other local officials also witnessed the ceremonial surrender.

Boongaling said the identities of the surrenderers were withheld for security reasons. They also surrendered two M16 rifles, an Uzi machine pistol, a 12 gauge shotgun, and a FAL automatic rifle.

"The brigade's endeavors on the operation against illegal drugs and proliferation of loose firearms are set in the Joint Task Force Central campaign plan to entice the lawless armed groups to surrender and live normal lives once more, Narciso said during the ceremony.

He added the voluntary surrender of the drug personalities was the result of the convergence of concerned stakeholders anchored on the implementation of the government's "whole of nation approach," which emphasizes cooperation among government agencies to address insurgency and other peace and order problems.

Narciso assured the people of Rajah Buayan that the military is ready to protect the communities in Maguindanao at all times. He was also optimistic that more drug personalities in the area would surrender.

Ampatuan also assured the local government is ready to accept the surrender of lawless elements who want to return to the fold of the law.

We will process their livelihood assistance through the help of the provincial government as, more than anybody else, we want peace and development in our community, the mayor said.

Initially, Ampatuan said the six former drug personalities were given financial assistance of an undetermined amount by the town government.

SOURCE: PHILIPPINES NEWS AGENCY

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