Daniel’s palpable proof

The reputation of government soldiers, in the distant past, was synonymous with “berdugo” or butcher.

The skewed presumption of arbitrary arrests, torture, murder and harassment attributed to soldiers and police fueled the vicious cycle of violence and abuse.

At its worst, human rights advocates say severe mistreatment resulted in people being deprived of their right to life.

Daniel Moses Dellosa, alias Ka Axel, former secretary of the Pulang Bagani Command 6 of the New People’s Army’s Southern Mindanao Regional Command, proved this wrong.

The 23-year-old Dellosa sustained a gunshot wound in the leg after his group figured in an encounter with Army soldiers in Sitio Barigyan, Golden Valley Mabini, Davao de Oro on 19 December 2021.

To his dismay, he was abandoned by his comrades, who he thought all along would be his protectors. The helpless and bloodied Dellosa tried to hide from the soldiers scouring the encounter site.

Hearing the placid voices of the soldiers, he decided to crawl down from the bushes and risk being finished off.

He cannot be grateful enough because the group of soldiers from the Army’s 48th Infantry Battalion saved him, provided first aid, and brought him to a hospital.

“I told them, I was wounded and they shouted that I have to go down, so I crawled down to where they were, but I was still nervous then. I said to myself that if I don’t go near them, I’ll be dead, too, and without hesitation, I entrusted my life to them,” he said.

Dellosa, in an interview with John Paul Seniel Reports on 26 January (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKBQJhEzzMk), said he thought it was his end in the hands of his perceived enemies.

Ironical as it may seem, he was comforted and reassured by the enemies he was made to believe by his communist indoctrinators.

“Don’t worry, you will live. We will revive you. Just don’t close your eyes, don’t sleep,” the soldiers were quoted as saying.

Being with the armed group for more than four years, Dellosa admitted he felt bad for being abandoned by his comrades. Indeed, they could still rescue him and bring him with them back to their lair if they want to. But they left their wounded leader behind on his own, or worst to die.

Dellosa, who joined the CPP-NPA when he was 18 and a third-year BS Applied Physics student at UP Diliman, and a League of Filipino Students member, said he expected the worst because he was a communist, but later felt the soldiers’ sincerity.

This young man from Sorsogon was just among the thousands of rebels who were given a new lease on life. Their highest appreciation is not by words, but they now live by them as government peace and development partners.

They are palpable proof of “misguided” people’s gratitude for their struggles because, without them, they would not have crossed paths with their real strengths — that is the strength to put their trust in the government.

Trust in the military may be assumed as not a general perception, but some factors shrink that confidence, such as lack of awareness about soldiers’ sacrifices and compassion.

Recent studies have shown that support for the military performing specific tasks differs from attitudes toward the institution itself.

Truth be told, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, in the 2022 Pahayag First Quarter Survey by Publicus Asia, obtained the highest approval and trust ratings among government agencies, scoring 67.4 percent and 53.4 percent, respectively.

Berdugo, no more.

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