Former rebels from Negros-Panay islands pose with representatives from various government agencies, namely OPAPP led by Usec. Gettie Sandoval, DENR-VI led by Dir. Adeluisa G. Siapno, DENR-VII led by Dir. Isabelo Montejo, AFP - 303rd Brigade Commander led by Colonel Jon S. Aying, and PNP-Negros led by Sr. Police Supt. Gerry Bartolome during the opening ceremony of their workshop as forest guards.
Bacolod City – Former rebels from the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade - Tabara Paduano Group (RPM-P/RPA/ABB - TPG), now known as Kapatiran para sa Progresong Panlipunan, will soon take active part in protecting forestry and natural resources as part of the peace process with the government.
In preparation for the hiring of around 95 former rebels in Negros-Panay islands, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in partnership with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) are conducting a three-day orientation-workshop at the Sugarland Hotel here.
OPAPP Undersecretary Ma. Cleofe Gettie Sandoval underscored that the program is part of the government's commitment to support former rebels.
"Nagpapasalamat kami na nanatili ang paniniwala ng RPA-Tabara Paduano Group na ang gobyerno ay hindi kayo iiwanan. Ang mga programa ay dadating hindi lamang sa inyong pamilya kung hindi maging sa inyong komunidad (We are grateful to the RPA-Tabara Group for continuing to trust that the government will not leave you alone. Programs will be delivered not only to your families but also to your communities)," she said
The Undersecretary also thanked the DENR, particularly its head, Secretary Ramon Paje, for proposing the inclusion of former rebels in the department's National Greening Program.
"Si Secretary Paje po mismo ang nagsabi na may programa para sa forest protection at bukas ito para sa mga armadong grupo na ngayon ay nagnanais nang mabuhay ng tahimik at maging aktibo sa development ng ating komunidad. Pinag-usapan po nila mismo ni Secretary Deles kung papaano ito maisasakatuparan (It was Secretary Paje himself who informed us that there is a program for forest protection and it is open for armed groups who wants to live peacefully and be active in community development. Paje and Deles discussed how it can be realized)," she told the former rebels.
Transformation to socio-economic organization through PAMANA
The provision of livelihood for former rebels is part of the strategy of PAMANA or Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Peaceful and Resilient Communities) to support former and current rebels who desire to integrate into communities and be transformed into productive citizens and group. PAMANA is the national government’s program that extends development interventions to isolated, hard-to-reach, and conflict-affected and vulnerable communities, ensuring that they are not left behind.
As a complementary track to the peace process being pursued with the RPM-P/RPA/ABB - TPG, PAMANA interventions are determined based on the profiling of needs of the members matched with available and feasible options in the area.
During the workshop, Director Adeluisa G. Siapno of DENR-Region VI said that the activity is an important step in the attainment of peace and development.
"Simula ito ng konkretong mga hakbang patungo sa kapayapaan at kasaganahan. Kayo ang magiging katuwang namin sa pagprotekta ng ating likas na yaman, na mahalaga sa pagtataguyod ng mga komunidad (This is the beginning of concrete steps towards peace and development. You will be our partner in protecting our natural resources, which is important in sustaining communities)", the Director said.
RPM-P/RPA/ABB – TPG expressed enthusiasm for the responsibility and opportunity entrusted to them.
"Isa itong oportunidad sa aming organisasyon at sa mga kasamahan na magkaroon ng hanapbuhay at maipagpatuloy ang rebolusyonaryong gawain namin noon na makatulong sa mamamayang Pilipino sa pamamagitan ng pangangalaga ng ating likas na yaman at kagubatan (This is an opportunity for our organization and our members to have livelihood and to continue our revolutionary work of helping Filipinos especially in protecting our natural resources and forests)," said Ricky Guzon, representative of the group.
The group is confident in the efforts being shown by government as they prepare for their eventual transformation to a legitimate socio-economic and political organization.
"Ang gawaing ito na magbibigay ng trabaho sa mga kasamahan ay isang patunay sa pagtupad ng commitment ng pamahalaan. Ito ay konkretong manipestasyon ng pagtutulungan na lahat ng sangay ng pamahalaan partikular ang DENR, OPAPP, AFP, at PNP kasama ang aming grupo tungo sa kapayapaan at kaunlaran sa ating lipunan (This undertaking that shall provide livelihood for our members is proof that government delivers its commitment. This is a concrete manifestation of the collective efforts of all government agencies particularly DENR, OPAPP, AFP, and PNP together with our group towards peace and development in our society)," Guzon said.
The RPM-P/RPA/ABB is a breakaway group of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front. RPM-P/RPA/ABB split in 2007, and the TPG now pursues a Closure Agreement with the government. #