Philippines Local Gunsmiths in Danao

Danao is a 3rd class city in province of Cebu, Philippines. The population of this city is about 100,000 people. This small city is well known for its gun industry. This industry currently provides jobs for more than 10 percent of the city population. Danao gunsmiths can produce not only small guns like pistols and revolver, but also semi-automatic and automatic guns such as Uzi, the infamous AK-47,M-16, and moreover, shotgun.

Danao gun industry started to run in 1905-1906, and in World War II era the industry went underground. The gunsmiths then joined guerilla movement and some of them joined USAFFE (United States Army For Far East) under the command of Douglas McArthur. They were assigned for re-chamber Japanese Arisaka rifles to fit US cal.30 round so it can be used in battle.

Consumers vary from local politicians, military personnel, ordinary civilians. These unregistered weapons also favorable by private armies and criminals because it is untraceable. The guns also end up in the hands of Japanese Yakuza and Chinese gangster.

It is noted in David Kaplan & Alec Dubro book about Yakuza, this gangster organization also help the gun making industry in Danao alive by ordering various types of guns. Moreover in 1988, one of the syndicate in Kyoto recruited 5 Filipino gunsmiths from Danao and set up a factory in Japan.

It is also reported that this local product of Danao also ended up in extremist and rebel groups which existence is in Philippines. We know that this country face serious problems  with terrorizing groups such Abu Sayyaf, super-blacklisted organization Jamaah Islamiah, and Moro National Liberation Front.

There are strong tie between terrorism and guns trade in this issue. Terrorist group such Abu Sayyaf has been the buyers of Danao-made guns. When they succeded their ransom-oriented actions, they will buy more guns to strengthen their armory, and materials for making bombs. Again the position of this gunsmith factory is important, because if the government can manage well, there is a possibility to contain the extrimist’s strength force.

I strongly believe that managing the industry will be another way to eradicate terrorist in Philippines. Government’s policy to legalize the industry should be an effective way, only if there is following good and visible plans. Currently, the workers are still working in old fashioned environment, not much of improvement in terms of materials, machinery, and safety equipment.

The role of the authority is necessary to make this industry more advanced, especially in term of quality. Philippines must follow the example on how Indonesia managed its guns factory. PT PINDAD now is the main weapon suppliers for both Indonesian army and police, making Indonesia become more independent in millitary equipment provision. PT PINDAD also supplying weapons to other countries, and have been well known at this sectors. It is true that Armed Forces of Philippines (AFP) also consumed weaponary made by Danao gunsmiths, but then  again they rely on American weapon since the local guns are are less compete than American one.

To make this situation better, the Philippines authority must be serious and put much concern to make a better, yet more professional gun industry. For example providing more pleasant and feasible working environment, give more open access to better weapon materials, set up standard operation procedures (SOP) which includes safety equipments, and supervise the workers with professional gun making skills. And lastly, the most pivotal one is to improve the workers wage because if they still getting low salary the workers will look for any extra cash, and making illegal weapons is the way. This will not help the main goal which to limit the access for terrorist rebels of getting weapons.

Lack of government support in research and development surely doomed the industry and forced the gunsmith to go back in the dark once again.

See pictures of Danao local gunsmiths here:


David Kaplan & Alec Dubro, 2003, Yakuza: Japan’s Criminal Underworld,  University Of California Press, Los Angeles, page 253.

Damon Yeou, 2007, The Underground Gun Making Industry in the Philippines

Karlon N. Rama, Danao Associaton USA Inc, 2007,

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