Commander’s Profile


Lt. Col Jo-ar A. Herrera is the 16th Commanding Officer of the 53rd Infantry “Matapat” Battalion (53IB) Philippine Army, headquartered at Camp Major David P. Sabido, Guipos, Zamboanga Del Sur. He assumed office on March 5, 2020, to lead the Battalion to serve and secure the communities in the area in pursuing its various counter-insurgency programs, counter-terrorism, and civil-military operations.

Military Career

Prior to his current position, Lt. Col. Herrera was the first Director of Operations Research Center, Philippine Army (ORCPA) at Philippine Army Headquarters, Fort Andres Bonifacio, Taguig City, Metro Manila. He led the unit tasked to conduct strategic research, special studies, policy studies and lessons learned for the Philippine Army. 

Lt. Col. Herrera was the Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations (G7) of the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, Philippine Army; Head of Plans and Research Branch of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Education and Training Education and Research (OG8), Philippine Army; Commandant of Armed Forces of the Philippines, Civil-Military Operations School, among others.

The Marawi Crisis

Lt. Col. Herrera was serving his tour duty as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations (G7) at the Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division when the newly created Joint Task Force Marawi, led by then Brig. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista, tasked him to spearhead the creation of Civil-Military Operations Coordinating Center (CMOCC) to initiate measures for taking care of the affected hundreds of thousands of civilians who evacuated from the war-torn city.

The CMOCC inside Marawi City engaged the affected communities, local government, and stakeholders to mitigate the effects of armed conflict and alleviate the sufferings of the victims. Lt. Col. Herrera spearheaded forging partnerships with the affected communities to take a proactive role in siding with the government against the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group.

Lt. Col. Herrera was also appointed as the Joint Task Force Marawi Spokesperson. Through the effective communication strategies of information operations under his leadership, the Philippine Army was able to counter the extremist narratives and negative propaganda by the terrorists. Lt. Col. Herrera was instrumental in taking an active role so that the Philippine Army was able to win the hearts and minds of affected communities to support the government in its efforts to win the war in Marawi City.

Lt. Col. Herrera is a graduate of two of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country — the Philippine Military Academy and the University of the Philippines. He holds a Master of Arts in Social and Development Studies from the University of the Philippines and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management from the Philippine Military Academy.

Lt. Col. Herrera took his Command and Staff Course (CSC) at Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College, Singapore in 2019. He also holds a Strategic Communication Certificate from Singapore Management University.

After his tour of duty in Mindanao, then Capt. Herrera assumed an assignment in the Philippine Military Academy as a tactical officer and a military instructor. He devoted his time to mentoring the cadets — a role to teach, train, and develop the next generation of leaders in the country.

As a leader developer, he introduced the concept of Servant Leadership in the academy as part of leadership philosophy and character development of the cadets. His initiatives and creativity exposed the cadets to various professional disciplines and helped bring the academy in a strategic interest of producing selfless leaders for the nation. 

Lt. Col. Herrera also completed the Overseas Joint Warfare Course at the Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre in Melbourne, Australia.

He was a distinguished student in the University of the Philippines – Baguio. His academic paper titled ”An Organizational Leadership Assessment of the Philippine Military Academy” was internationally recognized as an outstanding paper by The Randall L. Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence at Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A. in March 2010. Such a feat was a demonstration of the country’s prestige in the region as well as in the world through his high academic output.

With a vision to create models in conflict resolution and management, he authored a paper titled ”Legal Pluralism and the Dynamics of Winning Peace in Mindanao.” This paper examines the prospects for creating a just and peaceful environment amidst the complexities of security issues between the government and its constituents. 

He also provided an extensive analysis of lessons learned from resolving conflict and approaches to winning lost-lasting peace. This paper was published in May 2012 at “The Dynamics of Security and of International Relations” International Conference at Carol I National Defense University in Bucharest, Romania.

Lt. Col. Herrera attended a series of career-oriented education, specializations, and training at various military schools in the country and abroad. His most notable foreign training study is the Psychological Operations Course at the US Army John F Kennedy Warfare School and Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina “the Home of US Green Beret- Special Forces” where he received a U.S. Army Commendation Medal for graduating number one in his class, besting United States servicemen and other international armies of the world. He received the Award of Distinguished Honor Graduate, the highest award that the school could offer to its elite students – exemplifying the world-class Filipino spirit of excellence.

Military and Leadership Awards

Lt. Col. Herrera is a recipient of the following: 

  • 7 Gold Cross Medals for gallantry and leadership in combat
  • 12 Bronze Cross Medals for acts of heroism
  • 31 Military Merit Medals for heroic and meritorious achievement
  • 2 Gawad sa Kaunlaran Medals for meritorious achievement
  • 18 Military Commendation Medals for exemplary performance
  • US Army Commendation Medal for graduating number one in Psychological Operations Course at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, U.S.A.
  • 5 Military Civic Action Medals for humanitarian and community works
  • Silver Wing Medal
  • Anti-Dissident Campaign Medal
  • Anti-Secessionist Campaign Medal
  • Luzon Campaign Medal
  • Mindanao-Sulu Campaign Medal
  • Presidential Unit Citation Badge
  • Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation Operation Ribbon
  • Combat Commander Kagitingan (valor) Badge
  • Rifle Expert Badge
  • Command Citation for Best Company

Leadership Awards 

  • He earned the most coveted Command Plaque of Merit as the Best Junior Officer of the 6th Infantry Division in 2002 in Central Mindanao; 
  • Dangal ng Bayan Award – For exemplary conduct and ethical behavior in public service (highest award given by the National Government), 2006
  • Recognized as an outstanding Cordilleran in public service, 2006
  • Cavalier Award – PMA Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award, 2006
  • Asia 21 Young Leaders (Class 2007) – Asia 21 Young Leaders Initiative, Asia Society, 2007. He was chosen as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Filipinos and a fellow of the Philippines 21 Young leaders program of Asia Society, an international NGO based in New York, U.S.A.
  • Best Junior Officer – 6th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, 2002 
  • Best Officer – Civil Relations Service, AFP, 2015 
  • Command Citation for Best Company – 57th Infantry Battalion, 6th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, 2003 
  • Command Citation for Outstanding Service – Civil Relations Service, AFP Annual General Inspection, 2014


  • MSC Strategic Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (Ongoing)
  • Strategic Communication Program, Singapore Management University (2019)
  • Worldwork 2011, Process Work Institute, Portland, Oregon, USA (2011)
  • Master of Arts in Social and Development Studies University of the Philippines Baguio City, (2010) –College Scholar Award
  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Management, Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Masikhay” Class of 1999 –Dean’s List and Commandant’s List
  • Bachelor of Science in Engineering (undergraduate) Saint Louis University, Baguio City (1994)


  • Command and Staff Course, Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College Singapore (2019)
  • Overseas Joint Warfare Course, Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre, Melbourne, Australia (2014)
  • Psychological Operations Course, John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, U.S.A. (2011) – Distinguished Honor Graduate; Received U.S. Army Commendation Medal for graduating Number 1
  • Seminar on “Dynamics of Youth and Terrorism: Understanding and Countering the Issue”, Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT) Malaysia (2013)
  • Scout Ranger Course – Scout Ranger Training School, First Scout Ranger Regiment (2000)
  • Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced Courses- Combat Arms School – Training and Doctrine Command, Philippine Army (1999)

Lt. Col. Herrera is on Facebook at