LAWMAKERS yesterday welcomed the plan of the Duterte administration to provide decent jobs and livelihood assistance to the members of the National People’s Army (NPA) who may return to the fold of the law once the peace agreement is forged between the communists and the government.
Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, and Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu lauded Labor Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III, the government peace panel chair talking with the National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines (NDF-CPP), for initially considering hiring members of the NPA as forest rangers.
“We welcome the sincerity of President Duterte to talk peace and the statement of Secretary Bello to immediately provide jobs and livelihood assistance to our brothers and sisters in the communist movement,” said Romualdez, wife of former House Independent Bloc Leader and ex-Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, president of both the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD).
Alvarez also proposed that rebel returnees be tapped as “tax collectors of the Bureau of Internal Revenue or Customs police.” “Many of them are qualified [to either be BIR or Customs tax collectors] because most of them came from schools before they seek refuge to the mountains because of perceived social inequalities,” Alvarez stressed.
“Let’s bring them back to normal living by giving them decent jobs. We can train them for BIR or Bureau of Customs,” Alvarez added.
Abu said rebel returnees should be reintegrated into society and President Duterte will make sure that his government will be able to support and provide them with livelihood and jobs.
“There is no substitute for peace. If only the two sides could agree on common points and decide to face each other at the negotiating table instead of the battle fields, then we can surely expect a better and more progressive future for our country,” said Abu.