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Masbate political clan to surrender more guns — AFP

April 28, 2010 3:48pm

The Kho family, a ruling political clan in Masbate province, has signified their intention to surrender more loose firearms to ensure a “culture of peace" in the May 10 elections, a military official said on Wednesday.

"They [Kho family] are working towards having a culture of peace because they want Masbate to become tourist and investment friendly," said Lt. Gen. Roland Detabali, commander of the Armed Forces’ Southern Luzon Command.

Detabali said the military is hoping that other political clans in the province would follow suit. "We are optimistic that the Khos have set the example and the others will follow suit," he said.

Masbate has been a perennial election hot spot due to the number of armed encounters there among members and supporters of warring political clans.

For this year, the military has already recorded eight election-related violent incidents. In the 2004 elections it recorded 22 while in 2007 mid-term polls it recorded 18.

The Kho family had already surrendered 24 assorted firearms last Tuesday. These were two general-purpose machine guns, 12 M16 rifles, a 40 mm M203 grenade launcher, a Garand rifle, three KG9 sub-machine guns and five cal. 45 pistols.

Detabali said re-electionist Masbate Rep. Antonio Kho had promised that they would surrender more firearms on condition that they would be given ample protection by the government.

"We have to protect those who have surrendered [their weapons]. If the AFP and [Philippine National Police] can ensure security of the area, more [firearms] will follow," he said.

Antonio Kho is the husband of reelectionist Masbate Gov. Elisa Kho who turned over the 24 firearms to Defense Secretary Noberto Gonzales and Armed Forces chief Gen. Delfin Bangit following a peace and order council meeting in the province last Tuesday.

Detabali said it would be up to the Kho family if they are going to surrender all their firearms to authorities. "But the mere fact that some of the firearms they surrendered are high-powered, this proves their sincerity," he said. — KBK/RSJ, GMANews.TV
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