Storybooks and news items typically portray a soldier as a fighter: courageous, cunning, fully armed on the frontlines of the horrific battlefield. But in his 28-year career in military service, Lieutenant Colonel Elmer B. Suderio has proven a soldier is not bound by those standards. A true soldier, even when not equipped for combat, is a trailblazer: performing tasks not for the glory of victory, but for the progress of the community.
As commander of the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion (3SRBn) deployed in the strife-torn island of Basilan, Lt. Col. Suderio led a series of successful combat operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists from 2015 to 2017. By employing several out-of-the-box methods to deal with enemies, he was able to neutralize highly-wanted terrorists and capture their strongholds, consequently improving peace and order conditions in an area where war has long been a norm. Backed by strong human rights advocacy, he is also known for having his soldiers provide humane treatment to captured terrorists—an effort which led to the recognition of 3SRBn as the best Scout Ranger Battalion in 2016.
In 1998, Lt. Col. Suderio proved how prolific an administrator he was during his stint as the Company Commander of the 12th Scout Ranger Company (12th SRC), a newly formed company in Basilan whose more than 100 problematic soldiers were sourced from rejects of other Scout Ranger companies. Lt. Col. Suderio transformed the 12th SRC into a disciplined and cohesive unit, developing their combat skills while implementing welfare programs to maintain high morale. The 12th SRC was eventually adjudged as the best Company of the First Scout Ranger Regiment that same year.
Recognizing the need to train officers in administrative responsibilities, Lt. Col. Suderio led the conceptualization of a three-unit subject for the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) curriculum, titled MA 341 or “Unit Administration” in 2006. Before the inclusion of MA 341 in the PMA curriculum, there were no subjects preparing cadets to tackle administrative functions in a military unit. This is important given that more than 50 percent of an officer’s time is actually spent handling administrative matters. Initially designed for cadets going to the Army, the course is now also major subject for members of the Navy and Air Force, benefitting about 300 graduates per year.
Beyond the bounds of duty, Lt. Col. Suderio understands the importance of winning hearts and minds if a just and lasting peace is to be achieved. As such, he worked to provide alternative livelihood opportunities for Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) returnees after the organization signed a peace treaty pact with the government in 1998.
Lt. Col. Suderio has also leveraged his strong working relationships with local chief executives to implement community support programs especially in the remote areas of Basilan. Through these civil military operations, he has helped bridge gaps between the military and the community.
A recipient of many awards, including Gold Cross Medals for gallantry in action against the ASG and Gawad sa Kaunlaran medals for his civic action programs, Lt. Col. Suderio is a husband and father to 3 children. He received his Bachelor of Science degree at the Philippine Military Academy in 1993; his Master of Arts in Education major in Mathematics at the University of the Cordilleras, magna cum laude, in 2009; and finally his Masters in Public Administration major in Development and Security at the Development Academy of the Philippines in 2013. CRSAFP/MCAG