ILOILO City – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Western Visayas (DENR-6) hired former members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade through the Payapa Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program.
Former rebel combatants, through the program, worked as forest guards in a reforestation project of the DENR-6, providing them sustainable livelihood in their Peace and Development Community (PDC) sites.
“With your PDC sites, we will help you build your community. Now you can live in peace among one another and start your economic activities. We wanted you to pursue sustainable development while we also ensure your safety,” said Environment secretary Roy Cimatu.
As DENR-PAMANA beneficiaries in Antique province, 22 were hired and worked as staunch forest guards, whose presence proved to be a strong deterrence to illegal tree cutters in the towns of Culasi and Belison, the agency said.
Since becoming beneficiaries in 2014, other groups in Aklan maintained plantations of timber, indigenous tree species and high value crops in three upland sites in towns Ibajay, Tangalan and Nabas, producing a total of 390,390 seedlings, it added.
According to DENR-6, a total of 57.51 hectares of land in Ibajay served as beneficiaries’ PDC site or settlement area through the Community-Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) awarded to former rebels on April 25, 2018 – which allowed them to develop, utilize, manage and conserve a specific portion of the forestland consistent with the principles of sustainable development.
Meanwhile in Negros Occidental, 80 DENR-PAMANA beneficiaries were granted settlement areas in Kabankalan City, in Cadiz City there were 73 beneficiaries and San Carlos City (180 beneficiaries).
Last November 2018, the Negros group was able to produce 112,000 seedlings and continued maintaining and protecting 225 hectares of forestlands. They were also able to establish plantations with a total of 540 hectares in the hinterlands of Cadiz and Kabankalan, assisting as DENR forest rangers in law enforcement activities, the DENR-6 said.
It added the decommissioning of over 300 firearms at Camp Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz last Sept. 19 was a step closer to the completion of the peace pact.(With DENR-6/PN)