DAVAO ORIENTAL – A member of the Communist New People’s Army who has been rescued by government troops following an encounter on Sunday has expressed his gratitude to the government for saving his life after being abandoned by his comrades.
28-year-old Randy (not his real name) sustained a gunshot wound on his left knee during the armed encounter between his group and government troops who were conducting Focused Military Operations at the boundaries of Lupon, Davao Oriental and vicinity of Sitio Washington, Las Arenas in Pantukan town of the neighboring Compostela Valley Province.
Not being able to move and keep up with his squad because of his wounds, Randy said his comrades took his M-16 rifle with them before leaving him then scurrying in the forest to escape. “Left alone and hopeless, I hid in the forest for fear that soldiers will find me,” he recalled.
Randy was eventually found the day after by soldiers of the 28th Infantry Battalion who were scouring the forests in search for items to be recovered. Hungry, weak, and seriously bleeding, Randy was desperate to get help and was left with no choice but to surrender.
Despite being identified as the enemy, Randy was not harmed by the government soldiers. Instead, he received a kind of treatment and care he never imagined he would get.
Troops immediately gave him first aid treatment before transporting him to safety. He was later given proper treatment and medical attention at the Davao Oriental Provincial Medical Center (DOMPC) in the City of Mati. “I would probably be dead by now if not for the military troops who found me,” Randy said teary-eyed.
“I was treated very well. They fed me and gave me medicine. The soldiers never hurt me. Instead they comforted and assured me that I will be fine,” he added.
No less than Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang overseen Randy’s safe transport and medical care as he personally visited him at the hospital facility. He assured that the Provincial Government will take care of his hospitalization and has also committed to facilitate his processing and turn-over to the proper authorities.
“He may not be a resident of Davao Oriental, but he is a Filipino and it is our duty to help our fellow Filipino,” said the Governor, adding that “we are helping him because it is the right thing to do. It is the most humane thing that we can do.”
Having been in and out of the Communist movement for six years, Randy was swayed to join the movement banking on the promise of a host of benefits they offered such as livelihood and cash assistance. “But none of those promises ever came true,” said Randy.
“What’s even more disheartening was when they abandoned me that day. They saw me bleeding and crawling, but they just left me there to die. What they say about our bond as brothers is absolutely not true,” he said.
28th Infantry Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Miguel Ramon said the government troops’ rescue of an enemy is a clear demonstration of the government and the military’s genuine intent for peace.
“The convergence of the local government, the military, police, and other agencies involved also demonstrates that the President’s Executive Order 70 also known as the ‘Whole of Nation Approach to End Insurgency’ is working here,” he said, adding that this is the best way to counter insurgency rather than running after them in offensives.
701st Brigade Commander Col. Manuel Sequitin lauded his troops for a job well-done. “It is a soldier’s humanitarian duty to provide medical care to our captured NPAs who were wounded during the recent encounter with our troops,” he said.
“We will still exert efforts to convince and redirect the perception of the NPA, now in the custody of the Philippine National Police, towards a more positive mindset in pursuit of peace in our province,” he added.
He further called on to other NPAs suffering in the hinterlands that the government is open to accepting them back in folds of law. “Peace and livelihood programs have been set in place through the Davao Oriental Happy Home halfway house and the Expanded Comprehensive Local Integration Program for them to go back to their families and become productive citizens of the community.”
Meanwhile, Governor Dayanghirang appealed to all Dabawenyos to join the government’s cause for peace. “We are all Filipinos. There’s no reason that we should fight. Instead, let us try to help and support each other. That way, we may be able to help our province develop and even usher our nation towards true progress.”