The United States government recently hosted two workshops in Cebu City that enhanced the capacity of more than 70 barangay leaders and jail management personnel from across the Philippines to counter terrorism and extremist ideologies in local communities.
These trainings are part of a broader commitment from the U.S. government to support the Philippine government’s efforts on countering violent extremism, according to U.S. Embassy Public Engagement Program Officer Nina Lewis.
Through funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s International Crime Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines partnered with the Philippine National Police (PNP) to hold a Salaam Volunteer Facilitators Course from May 2 to 4. During this training, barangay leaders from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and provinces across the country learned techniques and best practices for holding community dialogues that will help prevent the spread of terrorist influence and local terrorist recruitment.
“Approaches and methods to counter terrorism are varied and diverse, but they all ultimately work to ensure that people are safe from harm, have access to law and justice, are included in the political decisions that affect them, have access to better economic opportunities, and enjoy better livelihoods,” said Police Col. Madzgani Mukaram, Chief of PNP’s Salaam Peace Center.
Simultaneously, the U.S. Embassy also sponsored a “writeshop” in partnership with Dr. Edralin Manla’s Peace Education Project and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) on “Enhancing the Culture of Peace in the BJMP.” Implemented through BJMP’s Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism Program, this initiative promotes non-violent conflict resolution with the goal of reducing recidivism. During the course, participants created a curriculum for training BJMP personnel and Persons Deprived of Liberty to resolve conflict peacefully and deter them from joining extremist groups. The curriculum will be adopted and taught in communities once approved by BJMP leadership.
“BJMP will continue to deepen its efforts to make every jail unit not only a physical but also an ideological stronghold, where no extremist ideologies can penetrate,” BJMP Chief Jail Director Allan Iral stated.