With the theme, “Seguridad Paigtingin, Manatiling Ligtas sa COVID 19,” the annual celebration of National Correctional Consciousness Week (NACOCOW) pushed through last October 26-31.

This year, the celebration was truly unique and challenging because of the policies due to COVID -19 pandemic. The Regional Welfare and Development designed that the activities were to properly coincide with the COVID protocols. This celebration also showed resiliency as the region opened the weeklong celebration with an Ecumenical Prayer for Healing and Thanksgiving. It was attended by invited prayer leaders from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, represented by Fr. Greto, RD Ministries Incorporated and a Muslim PDL from Sultan Kudarat District Jail Male Dormitory.

Fifteen jails units from BJMP XII participated, together with their personnel and PDL, to express and show unity through prayer. One of the service providers from prison ministry who attended the activity and has been part of the celebration for several years mentioned that it was the best NACOCOW celebration yet, since it was the first time that all jails enjoined together in prayer.

Hataw Laban sa COVID-19 clip, a recorded dance presentation which was adjudged by the invited judges, was also shown during the event. The whole presentation was viewed by PDL from all jails that made it very exciting and enjoyable.

General Santos City Jail Male Dormitory was proclaimed as Champion where they received a prize amount of Php 5,000, North Cotabato District Jail Female Dorm as 1st Runner-up with Php 3,000.00 prize money, and Sultan Kudarat District Jail Male Dormitory as the 2nd Runner-up with Php , while the CRS Choice Award was given to Kabacan District Jail.

Promoting the livelihood products of PDL is a regular activity of the NACOCOW, but though COVID-19 hindered and limited this year’s resources for the celebration, it continued to motivate and challenge the Welfare and Development Unit to continue with the event.  Here, they used the social media to promote the products of PDL.

Sultan Kudarat District Jail Female Dormitory, Pigcawayan District Jail, General Santos City Jail Male Dormitory, General Santos City Jail Female Dormitory, Makilala District Jail, and Alabel District Jail participated in the online selling. This activity broadened the opportunity of the PDL to promote their products to more people outside the jail, especially that the support of each jail and the Regional Office was evidently expressed by sharing the live video selling of the units.

Parol and Belen Making contest were also done as part of NACOCOW activities. Fifteen jails made parols out of indigenous materials which enabled the artistic minds and handicraft skills of the PDL to flourish in through their very amazing output.  The Belen Making was judged through recorded videos. The PDL helped each other in the creation of their Belen wherein breathtaking outputs and the realistically made caricature of the Belen characters showcased the spirit of Christmas.

Last October 30, the first ever Virtual Service Providers Congress was held simultaneous with the culminating program of the NACOCOW. Despite challenges in internet connectivity during the program, the planned activities continued which were participated by the religious service providers and educators from the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Welfare and Development Units of the jail units.

Ms. Lani Banotan of the Directorate of Welfare and Division, National Headquarters discussed the Interim Guidelines on COVID-19, while Engr. Panfilo Jayme shared on his dedication and loved for the PDL and discussed further rewards being a volunteer in prison. Additionally, Ms. Emily Enolpe, Regional Alternative Learning System Supervisor, mentioned that the Education Behind Bars initiative is the best practice of the collaborative efforts of the DepEd and the BJMP, as it allows the PDL to attain education which can help them acquire diploma and even skills along with their spirituality prepare them in their eventual reintegration in the society.

South Cotabato Governor, Hon. Reynaldo S Tamayo, guest speaker during the culminating program, expressed his respect to the Regional Director JSSUPT SIMEON S DOLOJO JR for maintaining the Region 12 Jails Facilities as COVID-free facilities. He even congratulated the service providers who gave their life in extending their support to all jails and above all expressed his trust for the management of the Bureau in handling the PDL. He said that BJMP is a true public servant since they maintain the peace and order because PDL from BJMP are reformed after incarceration. He repeatedly mentioned his willingness to give the whole management of the South Cotabato Provincial Jail to the BJMP management.

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