Manila, Philippines (September 3, 2012) – On August 19, 2012, a relatively quiet celebration was shared to commemorate the founding of the Philippine Society of Criminologists and Criminal Justice Professionals: an organization that almost wasn’t.
A common Facebook exchange; a student distraught over her contemporaries’ criticisms; a professor passionate about his field of practice with fatherly advice: the essential elements that set the stage for what is to be. From what were but mere childish remarks from a student, awoke a professor’s vision of unity.
One year since, a society emerged. One comprising of membership depths that span vertically (from mere enthusiasts, to students, to senior practitioners) and horizontally (from those in academe, law enforcement, the practice of law, activists, politics, and many more).
The culmination of which established a seemingly natural evolution: one of a foundation that positions participants toward advancement opportunities in honing and expanding their craft; building, solidifying and widening a strong network; and, contributing to the same for others.
Just exactly how did this come about and where is it heading?
History in brief
Planting the bitter seed
A little over a year ago, a Criminology professor was accosted by his student on Facebook. Their comments exchange initially centered on the student’s singing aspirations, criticism from contemporaries, and the need to heed to caution with regard unknown persons online posing as talent scouts or presenting opportunities that are seemingly too good to be true.
The professor shared fatherly advice. The student, engulfed with mixed emotions gradually reacted as a rebellious teenager would. Their conversation digressed into a number of topics, eventually taking the tone of an argument. As the focus shifted to the practice of Criminology, the student dissented on many of the professor’s points with shallow and unfounded childish remarks. The professor nevertheless defended his beloved Criminology vigorously. A losing battle it seems since the student was blinded by an emotionally fueled innocent ignorance and the perceived ‘force-field’ protection of being online.
Sprouts of sweet progress
From the same reasons that allowed the student to be so bold in her remarks, a typical person might have easily shrugged off the experience and moved on. However, the professor, passionate about his field of practice was left with many a sleepless night bothered by the experience. He wondered how he might rally his friends and colleagues in collectively contributing towards the unification and strengthening of their mutual discipline. And, on the same platform that facilitated his dismay, he put the wheels in motion towards the realization of his new found vision.
The professor, Principe Jose N. Albajeso, is a Criminology faculty at Our Lady of Fatima University. He is an MS Criminal Justice student, registered Criminologist, and a former student council president at his baccalaureate alma mater, the Philippine College of Criminology (PCCR). Together with two fellow alumni who are also Criminology professors–John Romer Venturillo (Criminology professor; MS Criminal Justice student; board exam 2nd placer and registered Criminologist; BSCrim cum laude and valedictorian) and Ronny Catapang (Criminology professor; MS Criminal Justice student)–they established a Facebook group that quickly became a staple source for Criminology-related information for their collective students. With the three leaders at the helm, the Facebook group was then called, the Philippine United Criminology (PUC).
A fourth leader, Jayson Malabug (active in the area of industrial security management) quickly joined in. His active and honest intentions to contribute, breadth of knowledge in contemporary Criminology practices, and his seniority in his field made him a much desired participant in the moderation of the Facebook group.
Yet another was destined to partake. Barely one month into the effort, Professor Albajeso’s appetite to widen the reach of his vision was ramping up. On a visit to his baccalaureate alma mater, he chanced upon the school’s student council to which he campaigned for participation and membership. There, among the council members present was an unassuming law aspirant finishing his pre-law baccalaureate in Criminology, then serving as the student council president. His name is Felix Camerino: a blogger; law student; BSCrim cum laude and valedictorian; former student council president.
In the months that followed, Felix Camerino joined with Professor Principe Jose N. Albajeso in proactively leading the Facebook group towards becoming a legitimate ‘brick-and-mortar’ organization. He organized charter member meetings to draw out prospective leaders who may play a role in the group’s growth. He also led the effort to rename the group to what it is now called: the Philippine Society of Criminologists and Criminal Justice Professionals (PSCCJP). Drawing from his corporate and legal background, he authored the organization’s by-laws and articles of incorporation and took charge of gaining PRC endorsement (for the use of ‘Criminologists’ in the name) and SEC-filing as a non-stock corporation.
On May 2012, PRC endorsed PSCCJP. The following month (June 2012), the Philippine Society of Criminologists and Criminal Justice Professional Inc. (PSCCJP) became an SEC-registered non-stock corporation (Company Reg. No. CN201210881).
Meanwhile, in the midst of all these back office activities, the Facebook group was growing in terms of membership numbers and quality, and purpose. Along with students, many law enforcement practitioners (from neophytes to seasoned members), lawyers, politicians and activists found their way into the group as frequent contributors. The group has also become a central Criminology and Criminal Justice-related source for upcoming events, news and general information.
Reaping the bounties and bracing for a good storm
In its first year of existence, the Facebook group has become a must-visit online forum. Healthy debates are a common activity as are commentaries and dynamic exchanges on related current events. It has also evolved to be a de facto source of upcoming industry-related events. But, its utility has not stopped as a seemingly insatiable demand for expanded services has grown steadily. Needless to say, its use has become indispensable for contemporary criminologists and criminal justice professionals and students alike.
Its first anniversary has served as a checkpoint to reflect on the efforts, trends, lessons-learned, and successes of the past year. It has provided the validation to Professor Albajeso’s vision and the affirmation that indeed, the continuing effort to grow beyond a mere Facebook group is not only right but a must. A growth that in fact has begun to break ground with the formation of a governing body comprising of a diverse group of senior and prominent industry leaders.
In the coming months, many expanded services are expected. These include the formalization of a multi-type membership system, seminars, outreach programs and a great many more. All aimed at establishing a solid environment that facilitates advanced opportunities in honing and expanding one’s craft; building, solidifying and widening a strong network; and, contributing to the same for others (whether contemporaries, juniors or seniors).
So, while there is relative quiet in celebrating this first anniversary, such is but the mere ‘calm before the storm.’
Happy first anniversary, PSCCJP!
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The Philippine Society of Criminologists and Criminal Justice Professionals is a consortium of those in the study and practice of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Its portal can be found on facebook.com/groups/psccj.01/. Membership is open to practitioners, students or even mere enthusiasts of the given field. To join, simply click on the JOIN GROUP button (located at the upper right corner) while on the Facebook group.