North Cotabato town turns over 102 loose firearms to the military

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 22) — Local Chief executives in Carmen, North Cotabato turned over 102 loose firearms from 28 barangays to the 6th infantry Division of the Philippine Army in a handover ceremony on Thursday.

The ceremony served as the municipality's participation in the military's Balik Baril Program (BBP) which provides compensation to citizens who surrender their firearms.

According to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Carmen is the first municipality in North Cotabato to successfully implement the BBP.

Carmen Mayor Roger Taliño led the ceremony. Among the attendees were  Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, 6th Infantry Division Commander Major General Arnel dela Vega, and Provincial Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza.

"This activity symbolizes unity and peace among Christian, Muslim and Indigenous people leaving in Carmen and supports the program of the beloved President," a statement from the Carmen Municipal Police Station said.

The municipality of Carmen is known for being a military hotspot due to encounters between the rebel groups and government forces.

On December 20 last year, the military launched an airstrike in Carmen against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who were associated with the ISIS-linked group, Abu Turaife.

READ:Military launches attacks vs 'Turaife group' in N. Cotabato

Carmen was also one of the affected areas by bombs manufactured by BIFF bomb expert Buds Basilan, who was killed in a brief exchange of gunfire with the Army's 403rd Infantry Brigade on March 29.

The town is located approximately 71 kilometers away from Kidapawan, the capital of North Cotabato.

READ: 3 NPA, BIFF members killed in clashes with troops