BJMP launches training vs extremism in its jail facilities

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) has launched a four-day virtual training aimed at preventing its jail facilities from being turned into hosts for extremist ideologies.

Dubbed as “Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Insurgency (PCVEI), BJMP chief, Director Allan Iral said on Sunday, Oct. 10, that the program was a product of coordination with the appropriate government agencies, adding that they will continue to do so in carrying out and in further strengthening its PCVEI interventions particularly in deradicalization of persons deprived of liberty (PDL).

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) concluded its four-day virtual training on PCVEI in its jails on Oct. 9.

In a statement, the BJMP cited that that Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr, National Security Adviser and Director General of the National Security Council and the Vice-Chairperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) recognized the bureau’s efforts in establishing its own PCVE center which enhances the agency’s PCVE efforts and capabilities in addressing violent extremism and radicalization.

"Jails and prisons are expected to play an increasingly major role in this fight”, Esperon said.

“While in jails, there is an opportunity to put an end to the radicalization process and even reverse it to mold law-abiding citizens who do not see violence as an option in pursuing their cause," he added.

Iral maintained that PDLs are considered as one of the society’s most vulnerable sectors “making them the easiest target for manipulation.’’

While the BJMP has programs specifically designed for 'deradicalization' of the PDLs, the BJMP noted that violent extremism and insurgency are matters calling for constant refresher.

On the other hand, Nina Lewis, Cultural Affairs Officer of the United Staes Embassy in the Philippines affirmed that the US is proud to contribute to continuing efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism in the country.

In her message to the participants, she reiterated how the United States is putting efforts to ensure stronger partnership with the Philippines especially on peace building efforts.

“We are all in this together. This issue is so much larger than any single group or country. We saw this 20 years ago in the 9/11 attacks and if we learned anything from that it’s that we must help each other”, said Lewis.

Iral said that the four-day seminar on PCVEI is one of the BJMP’s initiatives to deepen the understanding of BJMP personnel on the importance of partnership with government agencies, civic organizations, academe and other stakeholders in preventing and countering violent extremism and insurgency.

The BJMP Center on PCWEI was established in February 2021 to harmonize the BJMP’s plans, programs and activities in addressing radicalization in district, city and municipal jails that are aligned with the National Action Plan on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and the Anti Terrorism Act of 2020. (Chito A. Chavez)