Graduates’ Insights and Reflections on the Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) Course Class 03-2019 

CPT ALEJANDRO M ORIÑA JR PA,  1LT BENJOU C PALADO PN(M), and PCpl Jake G Dalmacio PNP, three graduates of the PCVE Course, have shared their reflections during the closing ceremony of the course held last October 16, 2019 at the Bulwagang Reyes, CRSAFP.   Three (3) other graduates, 2LT ELICA ANTONIETTE KAYLA V HONDUNA PN(M), 1LT KINLEY S COCJIN (AGS) PA, and CPT NOREENA VALRIE D FAJARDO JAGS, have written essays on their experiences and insights on the course.


CPT ALEJANDRO M ORIÑA JR O-140047 (OS) PA       “Some of the topics required us to submit a 1,000 word essay turn-ins that we don’t usually do in our daily operational activity. However, this kind of challenge has always a purpose behind, and that purpose made a lot of sense during our Immersion Phase at Marawi City. We applied what we have learned, for us to be able to communicate and engage the Maranao people, understanding their different feelings, emotion and opinions while reminiscing the unfortunate event that happened on their beloved city that led us in crafting a concept paper, recommending a program with our different nexus that would hopefully help in preventing the recruitment of Violent Extremist/Terrorist to the vulnerable and disadvantaged people in the community and hopefully in the whole Philippines. Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity in behalf of the class to give our heartfelt thanks and genuine appreciation to the Officers and staff  of the AFPCMO school who have exerted all their efforts that made this course a possible one. Truly, the school attained its objective. To my classmates let us continue to uphold on what our class tagline says that we are “Managers of Conflict and Advocators of Peace as Warrior Diplomats.”

 


 

1LT BENJOU C PALADO O-146049 PN(M)     “Being oriented in combat operations where warfighting is the core competency, hence, finding the enemy and neutralizing them is my simplest context of winning the war.  The school started to change that perspective upon undertaking this course. I have gained overwhelming knowledge and understanding on the different ways of winning the battle. Thus, dramatically decreasing casualties in the battle field and in the communities and therefore will help achieve long lasting peace as we perform our mandated tasks.
The knowledge, skills and experience gained and developed during the course will help our unit to achieve its full potential with the highest capability of CMO in PCVE. As a graduate of this course, I will return to my present unit, equipped with the knowledge and skills ready to take on challenge to wage a war on a different perspective.


PCpl Jake G Dalmacio 253477 PNP 

Completing the ten (10) weeks in PCVE class, I was able to benefit from a variety of new things from the class, as well as refreshing my memory on things that I already knew.

In the beginning, the biggest hurdle for me was the almost every day and every weekend 1000 words essay writing assignment given to us. I get to work under pressure I have to finish constructing an essay in order for me to submit the given assignments. I also remember the time where our commandant was very disappointed to us because most of the class copied their assignments on the internet. Naalala ko din na isa ako sa mga naiwan upang baguhin ang assignment para makapag weekend pass. I worked overnight for me to finish the assignment. At lahat ng ito ang naging isang dahilan upang mapa-unlad ang aking kaalaman at kakayahan sa pag-gawa ng essay not only essay but also some research and group works. I need these challenges to help me grow and be prepared for my future endeavor as a police community relation officer. I saw that this Civil Military Operations School is my second home and my classmates is my second family, which makes me wish that when I get back to my working place that it would be like this or better during the days in Marawi, I also learned to interact with the people that developed my interpersonal skills which is very important for a Police Community Relation Officer.

Aside from the experienced, I learned the different approaches in preventing and countering violent extremism and also the ideologist of extremist groups and what drives them to commit terroristic acts that we discussed in the four corners of the classroom.

To my team leader MAJOR JOSEPHINE TAN PA and to my Assistant Team Leader 1LT MAYLENE LIW-AGAN PAF, to my teammates I hope that you appreciated my presence and assistance in doing our group works most especially our concept paper. To the PCVE Course Class 03-2019 KABALIKAT, congratulations to us. Nagagalak ako at nakasama ko kayo sa maikling panahon. At sa maikling panahon na ito nabuo ang ating pagsasamahan at pakakaibigan.

At sa pinakamahalagang punto, naka tulong tayo sa Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas para pigilan ang anumang masamang hangarin ng mga bayolenteng tao.

Before I end my speech let me leave you with a quote “Life is short, SMILE while you still have teeth” thank you.

 


Learning is fun with PCVE Course!

By: 2LT ELICA ANTONIETTE KAYLA V HONDUNA O-18586 PN(M)

One of the courses offered by Civil Military Operations School is the Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Course. It is a ten (10) week course designed to educate and train students in order to prevent and counter the realm of terrorism as it is rampant nowadays. The course is unique in its own way as it covers interesting topics, extraordinary immersion experience and especially it built friendship within the circle of students coming from different services of the AFP and PNP.

Interesting topics that touches Islamist Extremism, Cultural Sensitivity, Peace Education and the like were discussed by the subject matter experts/instructors coming from prominent universities in the Philippines, non-government organizations and different government agencies/offices. Likewise, documentary films are played as another lecture material that aid the students for better understanding and clear view of the subject matter. With these learning competencies, students are able to grasp the necessary knowledge and information on preventing and countering violent extremism.

After months of lecture bombardment, with all the theories that were tackled the students thereafter will undergo to an immersion phase. For the PCVE Class 03 of 2019, the students went to Marawi City, Lanao del Sur for the conduct of one (1) week immersion among the assigned nexus (Madrassah, Women Sector, College, High School, and Internally Displaced Persons). The immersion phase deepened the learning and internalization of the students in appreciation to radicalization and violent extremism as they conducted face to face dialogue, live interview, and other CMO activities with the vulnerable sectors of the community. The purpose of this phase is to find out the why’s and how’s of radicalization and terrorist recruitment. In attainment of the said purpose, the group were able to create a PCVE Program that would address the prevention of radicalization and recruitment.

Within the ten (10) week duration of the course and with all the activities that were conducted, students had developed camaraderie and friendship with each other. Despite of the mixed composition of the class, coming from different major services of the AFP and so with the PNP, a bond was built within the class that made the atmosphere in the learning environment at ease and very comfortable. With these, students had strengthened their ties and network with each other.

Most importantly, the end state of this course is for the students to be able to harness their acquired skills and knowledge in preventing and countering violent extremism among the respective area of operations. Also, students are encourage to share what they have learned and make it a ripple effect among other CMO Operators in the field. With such, the AFP CMO School successfully attained its objective and it etched a simple trademark among students that Learning is fun with PCVE Course!

 


PCVE Course: Building CMO Operators Across the Board
By: 1LT KINLEY S COCJIN O-17677 (AGS) PA

 

Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

As students of Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) Class 03-2019, it took us 416 hours of intensive lectures, activities and a 3-day exciting immersion activity to be competent in planning, implementing and evaluating PCVE programs effectively. This is a mandatory process to sharpen our “axes” in order for us to be effective warrior diplomats in our respective units.

We came from the different corners of the Armed Forces and Philippine National Police but amidst this diversity come the strength by connecting each other’s field of expertise to come up with the best strategies to contribute in our fight against terrorism.

The first few days were awkward, trying to adapt each other’s differences, but not too long, we learned to work as one, amidst the unit, amidst the gender, amidst the rank. It was a superb camaraderie, the unity that was solidified for 10 long weeks.

But was it long enough? Considering the length of schooling and myriad of topics to be digested, it wasn’t. We really had a hard time. The fact that our training directorate warned us even on the day we opened the course, that this is a serious course; it obliges us to unveil extreme focus and attention.

Now, everything was a challenge, but we chose not to turn our back. We embraced every single test for us to be sharp enough. The school offered us a basket full of knowledge for us to unleash the best in us, for us to be better CMO operators across the board. The faith that the school embedded in each of us should be rewarded with confidence that they will give us firm foundations in PCVE. Nobody failed.

As we go back to our units, the success that we have gained through this once in a lifetime experience will be our best offense towards sustainable peace we all aim for. We already have the momentum. To sustain is another chapter in our individual career. We need to propagate the learning we acquired in order to be considered as true warrior diplomats.

Yes, we came from different branches of service united with common interest and aspiration to be the vectors of peace the way AFPCMO School has molded us. Across the board, the PCVE Course solidified us and loosened our diverse cognizance to be effective members of the PNP and the Armed Forces.

It was hard but it was worth the sacrifice. The 10 weeks of hard work is not just a part of another history but it is just the beginning of a milestone larger than what we aim as security forces of the state and PCVE Class 03-19 is now ready to take its first step.

 


In Context: Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism
(The Past. The. Present. The Future)
By: CPT NOREENA VALERIE D FAJARDO O-19591 JAGS

 

The Past.

We look at the past, learn, relearn or not learn at all. Ours is the choice.

In retrospect, for a nation to move forward, one must not be oblivion of the past. Amidst the hustle in our life’s daily routine, let nothing be left behind by looking back like riding the time travel to explore the richness of history- where it all began. Tracing the roots through history has an impact in today’s global arena of violent extremism from the Middle East to the Philippines. One cannot be a good analyst and strategist without being a good historian. And, an understanding of Islamic history has a correlation with what confronts us at present. The history of Islam begun from one God (God the creator/ Yahweh/ Allah). Abraham, known as the “father of all nations” whom God promised a son, but his wife Sarah was very old so he had a son named Ishmael, to a servant Hagar. Jesus, a Jew, came from the lineage of Isaac traced to the Hebrew people and Moses which gave birth to Judaism. On the other hand, Prophet Muhammad came from Ishmael whom the Arab people sprang, where there emerge the religion of Islam. As history foretold, the ideology of Islamist extremism came from a noble view of redemptive philosophy. However, with the passage of time, dismantled belief, and misinterpretation, the true meaning of Islam which is peace and submission had been distorted.

Divisiveness and struggle among Muslims emanate also when Islam was diverged to Sunni and Shia. An analysis would reveal that it is not a simple conflict about religion but more of a political struggle deep rooted on who shall be the successor of the Prophet Mohammad. It is indeed a life-long struggle of the Muslims from 632 A.D. after the death of Mohammad where the ideology of jihad stemmed and continues at present. A dismantled interpretation of Quran and ideology subscribed by Salafi-Jihadists still persist from Uyaynah to the Philippines in building a global caliphate and the Marawi incident was just an offshoot of a scornful belief to succumb power in lawlessness. It may have been neutralized at present but just the pilgrimage from Mecca to Medina where resistance had, the pilgrims returned from Medina to Mecca. By analogy, this may happen again in the future as history has foretold. Knowing and understanding the personalities and the different ideologies of Islam in a glimpse is a significant tool to prevent and counter violent extremism, address the current situation, the nation is upfront. From there, the focal point is religion. However, religion is being exploited by the extremists to justify their cause and action.

When it comes to religion, religious affiliation and faith are intertwined. There are different religions, beliefs and practices. There are believers and non-believers in God or Allah. Be as it may, when beliefs and practices of every religion will be compared to convince one to believe that a particular sect is correct and the other is wrong, debate arises. Debate in religion is actually a source of conflict and divisiveness because each and every one has the tendency to show who is right or wrong which in some way may be ascribed in gaining power, influence and authority that is already political in nature. A thirst for power and influence might eventually lead to violent extremism wherein the end does not justify the means. Every person has the freedom to believe but this freedom may be restrained when violence is used to endanger the nation. Hence, the government plays a vital role in regulating the freedom of religion when the danger and safety of the nation is at stake.

The Present.

Drivers of violent extremism range from various factors like poverty, lack of socio-economic opportunities, marginalization, discrimination, poor governance, lack of business and livelihood opportunites, violation of human rights and rule of law, unresolved conflict, radicalization in prisons, and exposure to religious teachings espousing radicalism. These factors had been the advantage point of the recruiters to entice the vulnerable sectors like the communities, prisoners deprived of liberty with terrorism-related cases, youth, social media users, OFWs, and religious leaders in order to be radicalized that may eventually lead to extremism. Radicalism has no exact meaning but has been defined by various governments, states, shcolars and academes that radicalism is a process (Schmid, 2013). Radicalism does not happen overnight but it is a process whereby there are stages by which an individual or a group of people is introduced into an ideology that encourage a belief to the point that violence shall be employed just to achieve the desired goal.

Radicalization happens and is affected by political, socio-political, ideological and economic factors. Mobilization involves the targets, opportunities and capability. Radicalization eventually leading to extremism is greatly affected by rapid modernization and globalization. With the advent of technology, cyberspace has been utilized as a breeding place of recruitment and narratives of the extremist groups. Globalization has both positive and negative effects. While it boosts economic growth, establish networks, and improves tourism, among others, globalization also opens the doors of the Philippines to Foreign Terrorist Fighters (or the Foreign Terrorists Fighters Phenomenon) who can freely and surreptitiously enter and exit in the country.

The Future

The vulnerable populace is at an increased risk of being recruited and exploited. The violent extremists and terrorists are not resting in their laurels, they are continuously gaining power and force and posing threat to the nation. Thus, the need to act in order to  bridge  the gap between  the  government  leaders  and  the  vulnerable  populace. Reaching out to the vulnerable sectors of the communities by means of promoting peaceful dialogue, constant communication, provision for sustainable livelihood and updates on BARMM may be enhanced to rebuild and rehabilitate Marawi. This is indeed a challenging task that may take years or even decades to prosper but taking one step at a time will eventually lead to the desired goal. Through proper training and education, cascading of a reliable information, the Philippines shall win the battle not only in the aspect of countering it through actual field operations but through prevention. Just what Queen Rania of Jordan said, “You cannot kill an ideology with a bullet. You can only kill it with a better idea.” Peace may be achieved only if we work hand in hand, a soft approach, people-centered, and multi-disciplinary. But, the government should not be alone in this endeavor, the whole nation is called to rise for a shared responsibility– for the betterment of the society. A little act of kindness will go a long way creating a ripple effect. Looking forward, let us always think what future lies ahead for the generation today and the generations yet to come.