"Sir, hindi ako. Kidnap victim po ako."
This was what US-based Filipino Rex Triplitt said to military troops, moments before he was rescued from local terrorists at Barangay Pisa Itom in Sirawai town, Zamboanga del Norte, Wednesday.
The 62-year-old on Thursday narrated how the 42nd Infantry Battalion rescued him.
He said he was walking with five rebels when he heard gunshots.
" 'Yung dalawa sa likod [ko, tapos] biglang may bumaril, tapos nagbarilan na. Nagtago ako tapos pinakinggan ko, ang barilan huminto sandali tapos volume na naman ang fire, dumapa ako," he said during the presentation of the rescued kidnap victim held at the military headquarters in Sirawai.
Following the firefight, he heard someone speaking in Tagalog, positively identifying him as the person to be rescued.
"Doon na ang mga military, pagtingin nila sa mukha ko, positive daw ako daw 'yung nire-rescue. Hinawakan ako ng military sabi niya, 'Tay, huwag ka munang tumayo'," Triplitt said.
This is where he was taken away by the military, and said they fully covered and protected him until they found a safe area.
He thanked the Philippine Army and the government for their efforts.
Police Brig. Gen. Jesus Cambay Jr., of the Police Regional Office IX, said the operation was due to the strong collaboration between the military, the police, the local government unit, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front peace advocates.
Triplitt was abducted by armed men wearing camouflage uniform mid-September while he and his wife were on board their motorcycle on their way home to Barangay Piacan in the same municipality.
Wednesday's firefight incurred no casualties on the government side.
No ransom was reportedly paid.
-- With a report from Queenie Casimiro