By Ben Cal
There is an estimated 1,110,372 loose firearms all over the country with the biggest concentration in National Capital Region (NCR), according to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The second highest number of loose firearms placed at 114,189 is in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the home base of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Police Chief Supt. Reynaldo S. Rafal said threat groups in the ARMM have in their possession 5,179 assorted firearms and criminal elements have 1,440 loose firearms.
Tagalog region or region 4A has the third highest number of loose firearms totaling 101,758, followed by Central Luzon, 78,151; Central Mindanao, 62,718; Western Visayas, 52,759; Central Visayas, 52,732; Davao provinces, 49,178; Southwestern Mindanao, 45,974; Caraga Region, 43,960; Eastern Visayas, 43,409; Northern Mindanao, 42,231; Cagayan Valley, 32,326; Bicol Region, 28,587; Ilocos Region, 26,928; Cordillera Region, 11,628; and the lowest in Region 4B (Palawan and Mindoro), 8,779.
These small arms and light weapons are being used by armed groups to destabilize the regions; spark fuel and prolong conflicts; obstruct relief programs; undermine peace initiatives; exacerbate human rights abuses; hamper development; and foster a culture of violence.
What exacerbates the situation is that small arms and light weapons are easily available and are a factor in the escalation of violence by criminal elements.
In the words of Jan Engeland, Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations (UN), “more and more Man-Made Hazards increasing to threaten the lives and livelihoods of those living in poor communities in the world and can – in an instant – wipe out development gains that may have taken decades to achieve.” (PNA)