BACOLOD CITY – In a bid to address the growing number of shooting incidents in Negros Occidental, the First Negros Occidental Provincial Mobile Force Company (Nocpmfc) launched a program that urged gun holders to surrender loose firearms in exchange for sacks of rice.
Dubbed “Armas Baylo Bugas”, the program also aims to establish and regain the trust and confidence of the community towards the police, and to help the people, especially those who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, while sustaining the program of the Philippine National Police’s “Kapwa Ko, Sagot Ko.”
Since the Nocpmfc is assigned in areas covering the northern part of the province, they were able to launch the program in the cities of Silay, San Carlos, Victorias, and Escalante, and towns of Don Salvador Benedicto and E.B. Magalona.
Lt. Col. Nazer Canja, 1st Nocpmfc head, said the project was conceptualized when he recalled that, during his stint as deputy provincial director for operations at the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (Nocppo) headquarters here, they were able to monitor many shooting incidents that affected the peace and order in the province.
Canja said they established links with barangay officials because they could identify who among their constituents possess loose firearms.
As of October 12, 45 loose firearms have already been surrendered in the two months since the campaign was launched, and 67 and a half sacks of rice were already given away.
Canja said that, at first, the 1st Nocpmfc had to buy sacks of rice for the campaign, but later on, they were able to receive assistance from the local government units (LGUs).
“For every one loose firearm, one sack of rice will be given to the gunholder while a half sack of rice will also be provided to the facilitator for helping the police in the anti-criminality measures,” he said.
He noted that there were those who were afraid because if they surrendered their guns, they thought that they would be arrested.
Canja was hoping that many gunholders will be encouraged to also do the same to attain peace in Negros Occidental.