53IB, ZDS PTF-ELCAC Launches Beyond the Surface Book

The Philippine Army’s 53rd Infantry “Matapat” Battalion (53IB) in collaboration with Zamboanga del Sur Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) launched the book entitled “Beyond the Surface | Story of Resilience and Redemption” in an event held at Provincial Government Complex Pavilion, Dao, Pagadian City, on June 15, 2022, with Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Joselito D. Bautista as Guest of Honor and Speaker, represented by Maj. Gen. Gene M. Ponio, 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division commander.

Beyond the Surface, written by Dr. Moibe F. Olitres, RGC, foreword by Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary and Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security for Region 9 (CORDS-9) Rolando Joselito D. Bautista, and an epilogue by 53IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, contains compelling revelations and an in-depth understanding of the psychology of terrorist and offers a basis for the Philippine Army’s soft-power approach in partnership with various local government units and government agencies in formulating intervention and deradicalization programs for former CPP-NPA-NDF terrorists.

The book unveils the mind, emotion, and behavior of the 42 friends rescued (FRs) of 53IB who were enrolled in Project Good Life, the Battalion’s psychoeducation and deradicalization program. The book also highlights the achievements of ZDS PTF-ELCAC in support of Pres. Duterte’s EO 70 institutionalizing the Whole of Nation Approach to end the local communist armed conflict.

“This 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 – a result of passion and genuine public service to the people of Zamboanga del Sur and the rest of our fellow countrymen worldwide,” said Lt. Col. Herrera in his welcome remarks.

“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,” Lt. Col. Herrera added.

“Truly an eye-opener for the readers on why the friends rescued joined the CPP-NPA-NDF in the first place. This book is about the psychology of terrorist, and how various factors and vulnerabilities such as dysfunctional families, societal ills, geographical challenges, personal struggles, and push and pull factors played a vital role in convincing the youth to take up arms. It is also about how the CPP-NPA-NDF utilized these factors to aggravate the recruited youths’ hatred toward the government. The compelling revelations in the interviews of Dr. Olitres provide an in-depth understanding of the mind, emotion, and behavior of terrorists. The book offers a basis for formulating future policies and doctrines regarding intervention programs for former communist terrorists as a soft power approach for the Philippine Army, and community service for the local government units,” Sec. Bautista said in his message delivered by Maj. Gen. Ponio.

“From the individual broken friends rescued to the collective whole nation sphere, President Rodrigo Duterte’s legacy in redeeming peace and service to the Republic of the Philippines prides a character of authenticity toward healing for resilient Filipinos who endured the overwhelming internal afflictions brought about by terrorism. I honor and dedicate this book to the Commander-in-Chief and all of the Philippine Army,” Dr. Moibe Olitres said.

Meanwhile, Zamboanga del Sur PTF-ELCAC Chairperson and Governor Victor J. Yu congratulated Sec. Bautista for the achievements of RTF-ELCAC, and reiterated that Zamboanga del Sur remains insurgency-free.

“I congratulate Sec. Bautista, Dr. Moibe Olitres, and the 53IB on the launching of this book. This will be of significant help in ending the local communist armed conflict in the country,” said Gov. Yu.

Zamboanga del Sur 1st District Representative and Deputy House Speaker Cong. Divina Grace Yu also congratulated the people behind the book, and thanked the Philippine Army for its efforts in the province.

“This day is indeed a very special day. The people behind the book did something worth writing. Without the initiative and the hardwork of the Philippine Army, these achievements would not have been possible,” said Cong. Yu.

The government officials who also delivered their messages included: Department of Agriculture IX Regional Executive Director Rad Donn Cedeño, Department of Labor and Employment IX Regional Executive Director Atty. Roy L, Buenafe, Deputy Brigade Commander Col. Eddie M. Pilapil, and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples IX Regional Director Ferdausi Cerna.

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