Balay and BJMP forged partnership to promote humane treatment and prevent torture in jail facilities in Western Mindanao
Balay Rehabilitation Center and the regional office of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Region IX have formalized their commitment to promote human rights and freedom from torture of persons deprived of liberty in Western Mindanao through a Memorandum of Agreement signed by the heads of both organizations in Pagadian City on April 23, 2019.
Among the key provisions of the agreement was the development of a set of parameters to check if the jails under the BJMP in Western Mindanao are adhering to the bureau’s s ‘zero torture’ policy in line with the Anti Torture Act of Republic Act 9745.
The agreement was based on the shared mission of BALAY and BJMP to respect, fulfil and uphold the rights and well-being of inmates and their desire to effectively implement the Anti-Torture Law of 2009 and promote a system for preventive jail visit in line with the Optional Protocol on the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).
Other salient provisions of the agreement are the holding of the following activities:
- Documentation and reporting of possible cases of torture and ill-treatment of persons who may have been turned over to jails covered by the regional office, and those already confined in its facilities, if any, to promote the bureau’s zero torture policy.
- Capacity building activities for jail personnel on torture documentation and reporting, provision of psychosocial support for persons deprived of liberty, and the practice of self-care – such as stress management - for jail officers
- Production or enhancement of manuals on Rights-based Guidelines and Policies on handling detainees in accordance with generally acceptable standards
- Jail monitoring visits and discussion on any issues and concerns arising from the conduct of activities and other matters relating to the welfare of detainees
The activities will be conducted by Balay in coordination with the Directorate for Welfare and Development (DWD) of BJMP regional office.
The main signatories to the document are Balay Executive Director Josephine A. Lascano and BJMP Regional Director S/SUPT Johnson M. Calub, DM. Assistant Regional Director for Operations J/SSUPT Rufino Santiago Jr. Stood as witness to the signing. Balay’s Project Manager, Analisa Ugay, and Social Worker, Ging Villanueva, were also present during the meeting.
The three-year Balay-BJMP partnership is being supported by the European Union through the project Prevention and Eradication of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman Degrading Treatment or Punishment in the Philippines.