COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 19 February) – On orders of General Rodolfo Azurin Jr., chief of the Philippine National Police, permits to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR) in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and the Special Geographic Area (SGA) in North Cotabato. have been suspended as of 5 p.m. on Saturday, February 18.
Azurin issued the verbal order, now incorporated in the written memorandum from the Police Regional Office of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), following the spate of killings in the SGA in North Cotabato, the ambush on the convoy of Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. in Maguing town in his own province and the ongoing operations against the IS-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao.
The SGA comprises 63 villages in six North Cotabato towns that voted yes to inclusion in the BARMM in 2019.
The latest violence in Pikit, North Cotabato, part of the SGA, led to the death of two minors.
In Lanao del Sur, Adiong was wounded together with another soldier escort and his aide while four of his security escorts were killed when his convoy was ambushed Friday afternoon as he was on his way to Wao town in Lanao del Sur.
A joint operation is also ongoing against the IS-linked Dawlah Islamiyah group in Marogong, Lanao del Sur and nearby communities. The military says these are remnants of the Maute Group that laid siege on Marawi in 2017.
Military operations are also ongoing against the BIFF in the borders of Pikit, Cotabato and the Ligawasan Marsh towns in Maguindanao.
A top commander of the BIFF who was wanted by the military for his alleged involvement in attacks against police and military personnel, was gunned down in a joint-security operations in Tacurong City on Saturday.
Abdulkarem Lumbatan Hasim alyas “Kumander Boy Jacket” and his aide Makmud Lumbatan of BIFF-Karialan Faction was killed in Tacurong City terminal before noon.
Licensed gun owners in the region, however, reacted to the gun ban.
Former Maguindanao Board Member Jojo Limbona, said the security sector is putting at risk the lives of law-abiding citizens who are paying taxes and permits to protect their own lives.
Perpetrators of criminal activities in the region, according to the security sector, are using loose firearms or unlicensed guns.
Brig. Gen. John Guyguyon, chief of the PRO-BARMM on February 18 ordered intensified checkpoint security to ensure enforcement of the gun ban. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)