Slim chance of getting the rest of SAF 44's firearms

It takes fellow fighters to understand and appreciate MILF's "big gesture" in the wake of politicians protesting the delay in returning the firearms. (READ: AFP, PNP: Return of SAF firearms 'good first step')

"Ang masasabi ko lang, it's the first time na nagkaroon ng turnover ng firearms. In gunbattle, I have never received information na yung mga spoils of war binabalik," said Galvez. (What I can say is, it's the first that a turnover of firearms happened. In any gunbattle, I have never received information that the spoils of war are returned)

The surrender shows that the MILF central command has "control" over its individual members, he said. 

He explained: "Kasi sa kanila kapag nakuha mo na yan, normally, merong treasure sa kanila yung ganon. Kahit sa amin, may mga instances na talagang, kung makikita ninyo by history, kapag gunbattle talagang kinukuha nila parang war trophy," Galvez added.  (READ: OPAPP: Gov't did not buy returned SAF firearms)

(When they acquire firearms in gunbattles, they normally ascribe value to the weapon immediately. Even among soldiers, there are instances – this is historical – we really take the firearms during gunbattles.)

To soldiers, firearms are also symbolic of their honor, as Armed Forces chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr explained in September 2014 why he didn't allow the Filipino peacekeepers to follow orders to surrender their firearms to the Syrian Al Nusra Front that promised them safe passage in exchange.

"We do not surrender our firearms. There was a deadlock because Al-Nusra said it was symbolic that they take the firearms. I said, 'To us, it is not just symbolic. It is our honor at stake,'" Catapang was quoted saying back then. 

Galvez is the former commander in Basilan, where he led operations against the Abu Sayyaf and handled the spill over of the Zamboanga siege in September 2013. 

MILF's gesture is stained however, by reports that the firearms may have been cannibalized meaning some parts of the weapons are no longer original. The PNP has yet to release a report on the recovered firearms. 

Galvez maintained the gesture is more important the the state of the returned firearms, however. "Ang tinitingnan namin yung gesture," Galvez said. He said the MILF members also lost loved ones and, like the relatives of the SAF members, are very emotional about the issue. –