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‘Friends rescued’ receive trauma and healing interventions

Zamboanga del Sur— a Positive Psychology practitioner and psychotherapy specialist, Dr Moibe F. Olitres, Ph.D., speaks out about the mental health issues former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) have been experiencing.

"To help the FRs or ‘friends rescued’ as we call them, first, we need to understand them. There are manifestations of sheer unhappiness among them and indications of emotional and mental disturbance such as childhood trauma. If we seriously want to save them, this is what we should rescue them from," Dr. Olitres stated in an interview on Sunday, Dec. 4.

Dr. Olitres also explained the reason behind calling the FRs “friends rescued” instead of former rebels, and that is to “totally separate their identity from being a rebel.” She suggested that to facilitate their total reintegration to the society, the stigma associated with them has to be eliminated.

"This is how we can make them cooperate with us in healing them. We are trying to help them but a big part of it really depends on their willingness to be healed. Healing is a decision - it is a choice they have to make," Dr. Olitres said.

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Secretariat Executive Director Emmanuel Salamat thanked Dr. Olitres as well as other health experts who willingly offer their services and expertise to serve our friends rescued.

"On behalf of NTF-ELCAC, let me extend my heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Olitres for catering to the needs of our friends rescued. Dahil sa kanya at sa ating health experts na taos-pusong tumutulong, nabigyang pansin ang pangangailangan ng ating mga FRs, particularly na nga itong mental health,” Executive Director Salamat said.

He added, “It also made us realize how indispensable are the active participation and solidarity of our health experts from both the private and government sector. This is the essence of a whole-of-nation approach in addressing the communist armed conflict.”

One of the highlights of the upcoming NTF-ELCAC fourth anniversary celebration on Friday, Dec. 9, is the launching of the book, "Beyond the Surface: Story of Resilience and Redemption,” authored by Dr. Olitres.

In her book, Dr. Olitres delved deep into the psychology of those who took an active part in the armed rebellion, in order to provide readers a profound understanding of the FRs and those who are still under the influence of the communist terrorist group.

Executive Director Salamat is also grateful to Dr. Olitres for mainstreaming the mental health issues of those who were deceived to bear arms against the government.

"It is very important to discuss these issues with experts on the field so that everyone will have a better grasp of what is really going on. This is how we realize one of the President's agenda - the protection of cognitive domain. This is how we discern truth from lies," the Executive Director said.



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