COTABATO CITY- Renante Dalon's first surprise was when he was treated by the soldiers after being injured in a firefight about a month ago.
While recuperating from his wounds inside a military hospital here, he never expected that a 3-star general, bearing Christmas gift,would enter his ward to greet him.
But that was what exactly happened during Army Chief Lt Gen Emmanuel T. Bautista’s three-day trip to visit the troops in Mindanao starting on Monday, December 10 during which he took time to visit the injured soldiers inside the military hospital here.
Dalon was confined in the same ward where several soldiers are being treated for their wounds sustained in combat.
He did not expect that he will receive Christmas gift just like the other soldiers.
"I am thankful to the good General for his excellent gesture of giving me some presents in time for Christmas," said Dalon, 44, a native of Sarangani Province.
In his statement, Bautista said that he would like to see more rebels to lay down their arms and cooperate with the government in solving community problems.
"We should all help to solve our problems and not fight over these problems that could not be solved through the use of armed violence," said Bautista.
Enemies turned guardian angels
Renante Soliman-Dalon was among the 30 NPA rebels who figured in a fierce firefight with the 6th Scout Ranger Company somewhere near Mount Katuad, Bacong village, Tulunan town of North Cotabao last November 13.
During the 30-minute firefight, Dalon and another companion were injured. The rest of his comrades fled in disarray, leaving them behind.
"My companion died of his wounds and I was feeling helpless due to my own injuries. I raised my hands to surrender when I saw the soldiers coming towards me, their guns pointed at me," he said.
He knew that any of those soldiers could have pressed the trigger to kill him, but, he tried his luck and asked for mercy.
"I asked to spare my life and treat my wounds because I was already bleeding profusely. 1st Lt Johnard Sara-sara, the officer leading the patrol, promptly called the combat medics to administer first aid on my injury," he said.
The soldiers whom he considered as his worst enemies suddenly became his real life guardian angels.
The two men are combat medics of the 6th Forward Support Medical Company, Cpl Francisco B Gamayao and Pvt Avelino M Herrera Jr., wasted no time and treated Dalon's fatal wounds.
The Forward Support Medical Companies (FSMC)
The Forward Support Medical Companies (FSMC) of the Infantry Divisions was activated last March 15, 2012 together with the Upgrade of Medical Platoons of Infantry Battalions (UMPIB).
It was originally conceptualized in 2006 under the Strengthening of the PA Health Support System in order to improve the emergency medical care capability in the AFP, leading to higher survivability rate among combat casualties.
Caring for the frontline soldiers is one of the thrusts of Bautista as Army Chief. He pushed for the full implementation of this project upon assuming command over a year ago.
The Forward Support Medical Companies (FSMC) is assigned to the Service Support Battalion of the Infantry Division. It is composed of eight officers, 48 enlisted personnel, and three medical retainers.
The FSMC provides medical staff advice and assistance as required on an area basis to all units in the brigade’s area of responsibility. It also provides unit-level forward medical support to units without organic medical support.
The FSMC’s relevance to the military cannot be measured as time and again, their skills and expertise have saved hundreds of lives of both soldiers and rebels during combats, especially at times when evacuation is not possible due to terrain and environmental conditions.