Lito Mansaluon shared to me his unforgettable experience during my visit in Davao City on December 11, 2012. His 12 year old daughter (left) and 14 year old niece (right) were abducted by the NPA rebels in a hinterland village in Kapalong, Davao del Norte on December 9, 2012. (10th CMO Bn photo)
“I was with my 12-year old daughter, 14-year old niece and another friend during that time. We were transporting a sack of rice for our food provisions inside camp when the incident happened,” said Mansaluon.
Alarmed by the presence of NPA rebels, he was already calculating his chances to survive.
“As a former rebel, I knew the identities of some of the rebels. I am also aware that they will kill me if they will recognize me,” he said.
Aware of the harm that might be brought upon his companions especially his daughter; he decided to leave them for their own safety.
He brought the motorcycle to a screeching halt and ran away, leaving behind his stunned family members.
Amidst the whizzing bullets, he was able to seek for cover. When opportunity struck, he fought back, killing one rebel and wounding another.
In her account Ashley (not her real name), the 14-year old niece of Mansaluon, said that the leader of Front 34, Southern Mindanao Regional Committee, refused to release them because his father killed one of their members.
“She kept looking at me as if she is trying to tell me something. I felt that she wanted to protect me,” Ashley said.
All throughout her ordeal, she was trembling in fear trying to understand why they had to be detained against their will.
Through the efforts of the village chieftain who negotiated for their release, they were finally freed at about 6 p.m. on that day.
Mansaluon and his men are also directed to help in the ongoing disaster response operations in the areas devastated by the typhoon ‘Pablo’.