December 5, 2023

Stella Maria L. de Guia
It is not every day that one gets to see and know what our men in uniform frontliners do. The common scenario is, we are a little apprehensive when we see them. With the Covid-19 pandemic, they are a common and welcome sight. We see them in checkpoints, triage, doing community work, distributing vegetables and helping our kababayan o kakailyan. Or, plainly maintaining peace and order. It beats many seminars and hours of customer service and public relations. But there is more to our men in uniform and their tales of compassion, hospitality, and sacrifice.
“Mayat ti feeling nu makatulong iti pada nga tao, karkaru ta kastoy nga pandemic,”
says Senior Jail Officer Emmanuel Mataag, who with his wife donated vegetables to people in quarantine and families of persons deprived of liberty. In fact, there are plenty of farmer donors who remain anonymous and prefer to share their produce sans recognition.
The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) located at the Justice Hills in Kesbeng, La Trinidad, Benguet is composed of three jails situated in one building. The municipal jail is headed by J/Insp.Dan Bugtong,the district jail male dormitory is headed by J/SInsp. Bernard Marcos and the female dormitory is led by J/Insp. Erlinda Las-egan. Congratulations to all three wardens for their recent promotion.
“During the start of the pandemic, we had some BJMP whose family members are farmers,” explains Jail Officer Noemi Peckeng Cabradilla, also coordinator of the District for Alternative Learning System(ALS).
“They bring their extra produce to the jail for free. We only get what is needed for the PDLs and distribute the rest to neighboring villages or we bring the vegetables to the families of our fellow BJMP personnel who are in lockdown duty in jail,” she added. Noemi said they have three teams: the lockdown team, the response team and the home quarantine team.
“Every 14 to 21 days po ang palitan, we call it ‘changing of the guards.’ Kaya hati- hati po kami. Personnel are distributed to the following: Response team – 16, lock down team- 16 and home quarantine –16. Para sa three jails na po ito,” Cabradilla explains further.“Nahati po kasi ang mga personnel, locked down team, they are the ones who are inside the jail. So, hindi po sila makalabas to do some grocery or other necessities for their families. The second team is the response team- they are stationed outside the jail facility and attend to the needs of the community and groceries and other necessities for the families of the locked down team. Sila na rin po ang nagdadala ng mga relief sa mga bahay bahay. The quarantine team, sila yung naka work from home while waiting for their turn to be locked down sa jail.” The jails include nurses in uniform on duty.
BJMP Covid-19projects include the distribution of vegetables, relief goods, rice and cash to those in need, and families of PDLs called ‘Sagip Kapamilya sa Covid,” car and transportation assistance to the community, the sick and stranded passengers, ASL educationaltraining to PDLs, clean up drive and interfaith and religious activities.
Other projects prior Covid were participation in community projects and festivals like Adivay, information drive with schools like the Cordillera Career Development College (CCDC), strictly monitored livelihood projects, peace and order seminars and costumer service, celebrations of national children’s day, and Christmas, anti-smoking campaigns, mental health, and stress management seminars.
And just like any entity, there are a lot of compassionate stories behind those closed doors. Salute to our men in uniform frontliners who now find themselves fighting a different battle – the Covid-19 pandemic.
Author’snote: If you are looking for the continuation of last week’s LifeStyle entitled “Baguio Tourism Revisited” it’s on pages 20 and 21 with typo error under the title Korean.