Marines working in the often dangerous province of Sulu cataloged a stockpile of guns that included just about one of everything.
Among the reported haul were recoilless rifles, M1 Garands and Carbines, an M60 machine gun, M16s, M14s, M79 grenade launchers, a Singapore-made Ultimax 100 light machine gun, some mortars, AK47s, and a smattering of random shotguns and other vintage militaria.
The guns came from seven local municipalities and were unlicensed weapons apparently handed over during “constant dialogues” between the locals and the Marines. Of course “the implementation of Martial Law in the area contributed also to the success of this endeavor.”
In the Philippines, gun owners have to apply for a firearm license every two years, can own a maximum of 15 guns unless they get a special collector’s permit, and are barred from owning fully automatic weapons. All of the guns collected were termed by officials as “high-power firearms.”
The guns were received by members of the elite Marine Battalion Landing Team-1 of the Philippine Marine Corps, a unit that has often been neck-deep in alligators fighting IS-linked rebels in recent years. Sulu has been a breeding ground for jihadist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf and, throughout the 1980s and 90s, was the stomping ground for the Moro National Liberation Front, a separatist group.
Over the past several months, MBLT-1 has been involved in “hearts and minds” operations in Sulu that included giving out soccer balls, holding eyeglass and cataract clinics, giving free haircuts and distributing school supplies. That stuff is always better than mortars, 40mm GLs and suppressed M1s, anyway, right?