House solons file bill to prevent, counter violent extremism
MANILA, Philippines — Two members of the House of Representatives have filed a bill which seeks to prevent and counter violent extremism by combining efforts to lessen the appeal of radicalism to the youth and to reintegrate extremists into society.
House Bill No. 4585, filed by Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman and Anak Mindanao Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan, seeks to create a program for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE).
“Violent extremism has no place in a peace-loving society such as ours. It takes lives, hurts people, stunts progress and strikes fear into the heart of peaceful communities,” Hataman and Sangcopan said in the bill’s explanatory note. “It corrupts religious beliefs and distorts moral standards to serve a vicious end: that is to pursue a political cause through acts of terrorism.”
Under the bill, a member of an extremist group, such as the Abu Sayyaf or the Maute Group, will be considered a “returnee “if he or she returns to the fold, reforms and reintegrates into society.”
An inter-agency committee, chaired by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and co-chaired by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of National Defense (DND), will oversee the reintegration program.
- Among the benefits eyed for returnees include the following:
- Safety and security guarantees
- Support for relocation or housing services for returnees and their families
- Monetary assistance for families while processing enrolment into the program
- Livelihood assistance to improve their socio-economic conditions
- Reintegration assistance
- Educational and training assistance
- Enrollment in the National Health Insurance Program
- Assistance in registering with government entities
- Healing and reconciliation initiatives to provide psycho-social support to returnees
The inter-agency committee may provide other forms of assistance.
“The reintegration efforts sought to be implemented by this measure could hopefully contribute to the end of violent extremism in the country,” the lawmakers said.
Reducing the appeal of radicalism
To completely eradicate the appeal of radicalism, especially to the youth, the bill tasks local government units (LGUs) to engage communities through the following means:
- Develop joint and participatory strategies to prevent the emergence of violent extremism
- Protect communities from recruitment
- Support confidence-building measures at the community level
- Adopt community-oriented policing models and programs that seek to solve local issues in partnership with the community
- Develop early warning systems, and local and family-based mentorship programs focusing on vulnerable individuals or groups
- Provide medical, psychosocial and legal service support in communities affected by violent extremism
- Encourage civic and professional associations to reach out to communities vulnerable or affected by violent extremism
- Support the establishment of networks of civil society organizations, youth, women’s organizations
- The lawmakers said the law would be very timely, citing the recent bombings in Mindanao, including the September bombings in Sultan Kudarat and Sulu.
“Preventing the radicalization of the youth is vital in our efforts against violent extremism. But winning back those who are already members of extremist groups and supporting them as they return to the fold of the law is equally important,” Hataman and Sangcopan said.