SPEAKER Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday thumbed down a senator’s proposal to deputize former New People’s Army rebels as forest rangers.
“We better hire them as tax collectors [of the Bureau of Internal Revenue] or Customs police,” Alvarez told reporters, stressing the need for NPA returnees to be reintegrated into society and that the government must be able to support and provide them livelihood.
“Many of them are qualified [to either be BIR tax collectors or Customs police] because most of them came from schools before they seek refuge to [sic] 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.
Senator Ralph Recto earlier broached the idea of hiring ex-rebels as “guardians of the forest,” saying the latter are fit for the job for they have more knowledge with the mountain terrain.
Recto said the country’s forest guards need reinforcements, having only one government guard per 3,376 hectares.
“The lack of forest guards has made our timberlands prone to fires, poachers, and destruction,” Recto said as he urged the government to come up with the financial cost of transforming rebels into civilians.