Kho Surrenders High Powered Firearms to End the Culture of Violence in Masbate

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

MASBATE CITY, April 29  -- Showing their sincerity and determination to end the culture of violence in this island province of Bikol specially during times of election, Congressman Antonio Kho and his wife Governor Elisa on Tuesday handed over to state authorities 23 high powered firearms and ammunition.

At a Joint Regional and Provincial Peace and Order Council Meeting held at the Police Camp Bonny Serrano here, Masbate Representative Kho voluntarily surrendered two M60 Light Machineguns, one Bush Master rifle, six M16 rifles, a Baby Armalite with M203, an M14 rifle, four Baby Armalites, three KG9 sub-machineguns, five .45 caliber handguns, four magazines for Machine pistols and 810 rounds for M60 machine guns.

Special Task Force Masbate (TFM) said the recent surrender of the firearms by the Khos brought to a total 57 high and low powered firearms, of which 38 were high powered and 19 are small firearms, seized since January 10 the start of the campaign period in Masbate.

The surrender of these firearms was witnessed by high ranking police and military officials led by Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Delfin Bangit and Monina Senarosa, chairperson of the Independent Commission Against Private Armies.

At the handover ceremony, Kho said the surrender of these firearms is their sincere gesture "that we are indeed cooperating in the government's objective to attain peace and tranquility in the province."

He said "the gesture of cooperation is a signal that we wanted to end the incidence [sic] of political killing which is grimly affecting the economic growth of the province."

He also asked the member of the Special Task Force Masbate (TFM) to ask other political groups to follow suit and surrender their firearms as a sign of willingness to attain the peace in the province.

"Maraming susunod pa dito (many will follow) as this is the best solution to erase the bad image of Masbate," Kho said.

It may be recalled that Masbate was tagged as the "murder capital" of Bikol because of the high number of killings specially during election period.

Defense Secretary Gonzales said the surrender by the Khos of their firearms "is a sign that there is still hope in achieving the elusive peace that Masbate is longing for."

Gonzales commended the Khos for the surrender of their firearms saying "I salute you (Kho) for beginning the move towards peace in Masbate, miracles are now happening in Masbate and the peace we are longing for is now here."

"What we see today is just a beginning if Masbate can do this many will follow," he said.

He directed the TFM to talk to other political groups to join in the effort of attaining, peace and tranquility in the province.

Gen. Bangit, for his part, said the government forces are here to assist in maintaining peace and for it to reign over Masbate, saying "our troops are here not to make war but to make peace, let's give peace a chance."

Bangit said he will send two helicopters and a recognizance plane to Masbate to assist the TFM and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in strictly enforcing an honest at peace and orderly election in the province.

TFM reports indicate that there are 11 private armed groups operating in Masbate of this eight have been confirmed and identified to be employed by two warring political clans in the province. (PNA)