DENR: RPA-ABB men forest guards soon-A A +A
Friday, September 13, 2013
A TOTAL of 105 members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Bongcayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) will soon become forest guards after completing on Thursday the three-day seminar on Forest Protection and Preservation held at the Sugarland Hotel, in Bacolod City.
Regional technical director Livino Duran of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the hiring of RPA-ABB members as forest guards is in consonance with the peace negotiation and closure agreement between the government and the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas-RPA-ABB.
As a prelude to the signing of the closure agreement by President Benigno Aquino III, the DENR Secretary, and Secretary Teresita Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) had issued a joint memorandum on May 13.
The memorandum provides that the DENR, jointly with Opapp, will give livelihood assistance and projects to RPA-ABB, Duran said, adding that part of the RPA's participation is to preserve our forest, enrollment for our national training program, and other forestry related activities.
Out of the 105 RPA-ABB members who will soon become forest guards, 10 are from Bukidnon, 10 from Negros Oriental, 42 from Iloilo, and 43 from Negros Occidental.
They will be deployed to cities and municipalities having forest lands, Duran said.
The RPA-ABB-turned-forest guards will receive P8,000 each as monthly salary being employed by the DENR.
The RPA-ABB forest guards will be armed only with pens and will bring advocacy to the people on forest protection.
Victor Sumulong, RPA-ABB spokesman, said the training and hiring of RPA-ABB members by the DENR is part of the social package of the peace agreement that they will be given livelihood and employment.
“We welcome this because in fact we introduced this to the government that our members would be absorbed as forest guards. Long before we entered into agreement with the government, environmental protection has been part of our revolutionary works", Sumulong said.
When asked about the risk of being unarmed as forest guards, Sumulong said they saw the risk and that part of the contract is the interim involvement of the police, army, in close coordination of the DENR with members and the law enforcement units involved.
"It’s part of our commitment and forest protection part of the risk of our job," Sumulong further said.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 13, 2013.