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PIA Press Release

DENR urges former rebels to become forest guards

by Ben Moses Ebreo

Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya (29 June) -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources(DENR) here will be tapping the services of former communist rebels to avail of their employment opportunity as forest guards to protect forest areas in the province.

Provincial environment and natural resources officer Robert Apigo said they have encouraged close to 100 rebels to become forest rangers to work under the Bantay Gubat Program(BGP) to provide them income for their families.

"With their attitude, principles and values, I think they(former rebels) can become effective forest guards because they have the edge due to their experience as former fighters in forest zones," Apigo stressed.

The offer came as members of the Nueva Vizcaya Rebel Returnees Association(NRRA) earlier appealed to government agencies on the provision of job opportunities for them.

Apigo said the former rebels are fit to be employed as forest guards under the Bantay Gubat Program(BGP) for P3,000.00 salary per month. Each forest guard will protect at least 3,000 hectares of forest zones in the province for at least six months.

DENR is focusing its protection efforts on 315,370 hectares of the remaining forest zones in the province.

Under the BGP, at least 128 slots are t be recruited as forest guards inorder to complement the existing 32 personnel of the DENR. The new recruits will also be taught with forestry laws inorder to become advocates of forest protection and conservation during information, education and communication campaigns, Apigo explained.

The new forest guards will also undertake collection of seedlings for nursery use.

He said the BGP is one of the employment opportunities introduced by the national government to generate jobs to help indigent communities in the countryside inorder to cushion the effects of the global economic crisis.

According to Apigo, the BGP's generation of forest guards will address the insufficient manpower of the DENR in stopping timber poaching and slash and burn system of farming specially in the upland areas.

"We are now processing applicants for this job as part of our campaign to bring forest protection efforts and initiatives within forest zones," Apigo said.

Joey Magno, NVRRA secretary - general said some of their members have also served as village guards in their respective communities and have been feared by bandit groups, criminal elements and notorious trouble makers.

Magno said they have sought government intervention because most of their members do not have other skills to enable them for other employment.

"With our tarnished image, we are facing difficulty in seeking jobs to support our family," he said. (PIA) [top]

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