Rescued Marawi victim says he ate uncooked rice to survive

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 01 2017 03:35 PM

Marines patrol a deserted street in the center of Marawi City. Government forces are locked in a house-to-house battle with the Maute extremists as the war reaches its second month. Froilan Gallardo, ABS-CBN News

A trapped civilian who was rescued from the warzone in Marawi City said he ate uncooked rice and drank rain water to survive.

The 41-year-old "Dodong" was rescued by the military in the Banggolo bridge last Friday after 66 days of hiding from the terrorist group Maute.

"Yung bigas lang na hilaw kinakain ko. Bigas lang, tapos tubig sa ulan," Dodong, who could hardly speak in Tagalog said.

(I ate uncooked grains of rice and drank rain water.)

While hiding at the top floor of a building that was occupied as a stronghold of the Maute group, Dodong said he saw at least 30 Maute members when he escaped.

He added that the extremists were using hostages as human shields, looters, and warriors at the same time.

"May nakita ako bata nagdala ng pusil (guns) babae. Tapos may nakita ako nagkuha laman ng bahay. Basta makuha sa kwan ng bahay susunugin nila," he said.

(I saw a young girl bringing guns and then I saw another one stealing from a house. As long as they get something from the house, they burn it afterwards.)

A carpenter by profession, Dodong said he is thankful that he was still able to escape the conflict zone despite incurring some wounds due to several explosions that hit the building he was hiding.

"Sobrang takot ko. Nagdasal ako sa Panginoon, sobrang dasal sa Panginoon," he said.

(I was so scared I just prayed to God, I prayed really hard to God.)

The 41-year-old carpenter was rescued by the 1st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army at Banggolo Bridge. 

The rescuing team was met with gunshots by the extremists, according to 1LT Marlon Ace Guintibano.

"Medyo natagalan siya sa bridge mabagal kasi yung lakad niya. May tama na kasi sa paa, namamaga. So binigyan ng tropa ng instructions na pumunta sa safe area at doon may nakatambay na ambulance," Guintibano said.

(It took him a while to reach the bridge since he cannot walk fast due to a wound on his foot. Our soldiers gave him instructions to go to a safe area where an ambulance was waiting.)

Clashes between government troops and Maute extremists have been going on for more than 2 months, leaving more than 600 dead, mostly terror suspects.

It has also left much of the once bustling urban center in ruins, displacing more than 200,000 residents from the city and thousands more from nearby towns.