By OSEAH PHILEMON
THE build-up of illegal firearms in the country is seriously threatening to destroy Papua New Guinea, former PNGDF commander and National Guns Control Committee (NGCC) chairman retired army general Jerry Singirok has said.
“PNG’s national security faces an extremely serious threat.
“The National Government’s failure to deal with the threat posed by the build-up of illegal firearms is threatening national security,” he said.
Speaking in Lae yesterday, Gen Singirok said the Government should urgently debate in the current Parliament sitting the NGCC report and take immediate action to deal with the crisis.
“The Government received the NGCC report in September 2005 and yet, to date, it has shown no real political will to deal with this increasingly serious threat.
“The report contains 244 recommendations for affirmative action,” he added.
“Our national security is at stake and I do not say this lightly.
“We are in a far more serious situation now than ever before and the future does not look any better as long as illegal firearms are being supplied freely nationwide without any deterrent or action,” Gen Singirok said.
He said the NGCC’s warning to the Government and politicians in 2005 about the rapidly increasing influx of illegal high-powered firearms being brought into PNG “is now happening”.
“It is no longer an academic finding or conclusion nor a rumour. It is real and it is real throughout the Highlands region, Lae, Mamose, Islands and Port Moresby.
“The people have spoken; they told my committee in 2005 that they want all illegal guns removed from society.
“They told the committee their lives are in grave danger; the mothers came forward and told of how their husbands had been killed by guns in tribal fights, yet their stories were not bad enough to move the Government into action.
“I want to tell the Government and Parliament that the consequences of lack of control by them is evident, already in state institutions such as the police and Correctional Services.
“As chairman of the NGCC, I am calling on the Government as a matter of urgency and of national importance to immediately debate the 2005 NGCC report,” he said, urging the ministers of Justice and Internal Security to take the lead in the debate and implement the NGCC’s recommendations.