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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, November 28, 2015
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RPA will turn over
all firearms: Tabara

The Rebolusyunaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas-Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade-Tabara Paduano Group is committed to turn over all its firearms, once the closure agreement is signed, RPM-P chairwoman Veronica Tabara said.

“We commit that within six months after the signing of the closure agreement, we will fully turnover all of our firearms,”  Tabara assured .

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process has profiled almost 1,000 members of the rebel reformist group, who possess more than 700 high-powered firearms and explosives.

It would be useless to fully turnover all our firearms if there will be no Peace and Development Community sites since part of the agreement is that there will be community defense force arrangement (with the Philippine Army), Tabara said.

The establishment of PDC sites, including three in Negros Occidental and one in Aklan, which covers almost 800 hectares, also included in the OPAPP PAMANA (   Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan) programs will be occupied by 366 families of former rebels.

In support to the closure agreement between the government and the RPMP/RPA/ABB Tabara- Paduano Group, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources hired about 100 of their members as forest guards, pursuant to the DENR– OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process) Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2013-02.                   

Tabara was quoted in a DENR statement as expressing their gratitude for giving them employment, that used to be an elusive opportunity for them.

“We have proven to ourselves that we can work along with civilians. Before, we used to think that we need the arms to get benefits. Now we have worked together with National Greening Program (of DENR), with the community, and we are able to help the government in its reforestation program,” Tabara said.

DENR 6 regional director Jim Sampulna said members of the reformist rebel group turned out to be reliable partners in their reforestation programs, and instrumental in strengthening their environmental conservation and protection activities.

Tabara also said that tapping of their members for the National Greening Program of DENR is a big help to the peace process.

“Because of this, we believe that, indeed, the government is committed to help us,” she said, adding that they are looking forward to the signing of the closure agreement, which will provide them social and economic re-integration, civic and political rights and security.

With barely seven months remaining before the term of President Benigno Aquino III ends June 30 next year, the closure agreement has yet to be signed.

The RPM-P-RPA-ABB entered into the peace agreement with the government in year 2000.*GPB

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