Rebel reformists thankful to DENR's help
Veronica “Ka Inca” Tabara (left) speaks before members of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) of Negros Occidental in a recent meeting. With “Ka Inca” is her group from the RPMP/RPA/ABB-TPG (right).
Rebel reformists, numbering to almost a thousand in Negros, Aklan, Antique and Iloilo have expressed their gratitude for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 6 for giving them employment, a once elusive opportunity for the former aggressive rebels.
In support to the Closure Agreement between the government and the group of Rebolusyunaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade-Tabara Paduano Group (RPMP/RPA/ABB-TPG), some of their members were hired as forest guards pursuant to the DENR–OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process) Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2013-02.
The group of Kapatiran was officially registered as their People’s Organization that was contracted with some areas in San Carlos City, Cadiz City and Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental and also in Ibajay, Aklan as their other source of livelihood under the National Greening Program (NGP) of the Department.
“We have proven to ourselves that we can work along with civilians. Before, we used to think we need the arms to get benefits. Now we have worked together with NGP, with the community and we are able to help the government in its reforestation program,” said Veronica a.k.a Ka Inca Tabara, the Panel Negotiator of RPMP/RPA/ABB-TPG based in Negros Occidental, the stronghold of the group.
“DENR’s effort to tap us for the NGP is a big help to the group and to the peace process. Because of this, we have believed that indeed, the government is committed to help us. We look forward to the signing of the Closure Agreement because under the provisions of the peace process, we will be given the social economic re-integration, civic political rights and security,” Ka Inca stressed.
“We have hired members of their group as forest guards thereby augmenting our efforts to implement the NGP both in the uplands and in coastal areas. They turned out to be reliable partners in our reforestation programs and were instrumental in strengthening our environmental conservation and protection activities,” said DENR 6 Regional Director Jim O Sampulna.
One of the provisions of the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn or PAMANA, a program of the OPAPP, is the allocation of the Peace and Development Community sites for the RPMP/RPA/ABB-TPG groups, wherever appropriate.
In Negros, there were already three PDC sites, namely: Sitios Ilan and Mambinay in Brgy. Locotan, Kabankalan City covering 179.64 hectares for the proposed 70 profiled members; and the two sites within the protected area of the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP) – the Sitio Nangka in Brgy. Bagonbon, San Carlos City with 230 hectares for the 191 profiled members; and Sitio Huebesan, Brgy. C. Villacin in Cadiz City with 232 hectares for the 63 profiled members.
In Aklan, the PDC site covers the three barangays of Cabugao, San Jose and Rivera in Ibajay, Aklan. It spans 57.51 hectares for the Forty-Two profiled members of the group.
Once the Closure Agreement is signed and the PDC sites are given to them, the group of RPMP/RPA/ABB-TPG plans to surrender all their firearms.
“We commit that within six months after signing of the Closure Agreement, we will fully turn-over all of our firearms,” Ka Inca assured.