Ending Insurgency Project Good Life

“Lets us win them by heart.” – Lt. Col. Herrera

(53IB Commanding Officer’s message during Beyond the Surface book launching on June 15, 2022, in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur)

President Ramon Magsaysay once said: “Our military offensive is indispensable since force must be met by force. But our social offensive is the extra weapon which the enemy cannot produce. Here the enemy meets democracy’s strongest element – the ability to realize and satisfy the needs of its people without taking from them their freedom and dignity as human beings.”

President Magsaysay’s right hand-left hand policy was an all-out friendship or all-out force for the enemy who would work for, rather than against the people. For those who would surrender, the government would be a welcoming friend. The government would provide the help needed need to rehabilitate themselves.

President Magsaysay’s insights are very well applicable today. Your 53rd infantry ‘Matapat” battalion utilized 53IB’s hard power and soft power approach to defeat the communist party of the Philippines-new people’s army in Zamboanga del Sur.

We offer our all-out friendship to the enemy. But we are not moved in our resolve to fulfill our mandate of using all-out force to serve the people and secure the land.

Maayong buntag kanatong tanan. Today is a very special day. I would like to welcome you all as we introduce a book that is a result of passion and genuine public service to the people of Zamboanga del Sur and to the rest of our fellow-countrymen in the world.

As we recognize our province as insurgency-free and development-ready, the CPP-NPA terrorist groups have ceased to exist, and the 53IB is sustaining our peace gains. As one of the maneuver units under the 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division, the 53IB is primarily involved in countering the insurgency and violent extremism in the Zamboanga Peninsula. Since 2016, the battalion facilitated the surrender of 216 former communist terrorists. With the influx of surrenderees, the 53IB initiated numerous programs to help the FRs regain their lost lives, endure new lives, and embrace mainstream society.

For the last 53 years, the CPP-NPA did not only radicalize our children but also penetrated different sectors and institutions. And they utilized a powerful tool of propaganda and deception through the publication of books and other subversive reading materials.

The book is part of our efforts to educate the people, especially the children, about the evils of CPP-NPA and prevent them from violent extremism. This is why we are persistent in producing reading materials. Your 53IB has already produced several books, including breaking free with three versions: English, Bisaya, and Subanen; Tug of War; and today, the Beyond the Surface book.

We are now reaping the fruits of our toils. The effect of President Duterte’s Executive Order Number 70 Whole of Nation Approach, with a clear political aim and a wide spectrum of the society consisting of the national agencies and local government unit leaders, community and religious leaders, academe, influencers, and non-government officials supporting the mandate to end local communist armed conflict in the country.

A redemption of peace and security starts with the end of the reign of terror. The effective operationalization and optimization of soft power approach can sustain the peace. The triumph of 53IB and stakeholders in Zamboanga del Sur against CPP-NPA-NDF is a product of hard power and soft power strategy. This victory in time of convergence amplifies security, good governance, and development cooperation among its stakeholders. Equally, the importance of sustainability and proactive programs, including socio-economic reforms, capacity building of local communities, infrastructure development, education, and peacebuilding mechanisms, among others, shall endure an insurgency-free province.

This book highlights the psychology of terrorist in the implementation of Project Good Life, a deradicalization program, in a much broader and deeper understanding beyond what is on the surface. It warrants significant factors to study and understand the phenomena of communist terrorists by focusing the lenses of psychology on uncovering the gaps of knowledge in examining the root causes of risk-taking behaviors and psychological motivations of our FRs.

The findings, lessons, and best practices in project good life in this book offer supplementary and alternative lenses on how to operationalize the concepts of preventing and countering violent extremism and deradicalization in the context of physiological and psychological features of the communist terrorist. Elaborating the trichotomy of human beings: the body, the soul, and the spirit, one must begin to understand the process of radicalization and its impact on the community and beyond.

This book is a legacy of your servant-soldiers, even when we depart from this world. This book shall remain and continue to impart invaluable knowledge and insights to the next generations – your children and their children.

Kahit na mawala na tayo mananatili ang mga libro para sa ating mga anak at sa mga susunod pang henerasyon.

Sinabi ni Sun Tzu: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

Nais kong iwan sa inyo ang nasa puso ko sa ating pakikipaglaban laban sa kadiliman: “Let us not just win by might. We should also win them by heart.”

Maraming salamat at mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

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