DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Police Officer 1 Alfredo Basabica Jr was scheduled to marry his fiancee Saturday, July 29.
On the day that he was supposed to submit documents for their wedding here in Davao City on July 11, Basabica was taken by the New People’s Army declaring him as a “prisoner of war.”
The NPAs put up a checkpoint along Kilometer 26 of Barangay Panansalan in Compostela town, Compostela Valley Province.
The guerrilla fighters intensified their offensives in response to the government’s implementation of Martial Law in Mindanao.
“I only brought with me a pair of clothes, documents for our marriage and loan requests,” he told reporters outside an eatery in Nabunturan, hours after his release in Davao Oriental Friday night.
He said he was also going to Davao City to assist his younger cousins whose mother died in the hospital.
Basabica, who was assigned at the Provincial Public Safety Company in Aliwagwag Falls, said it was just by chance that NPAs took him.
He was not on duty, but was identified through his identification card as a police officer.
Basabica said the NPAs made a “background investigation” on him and found out he was an officer with a good standing in the community.
He remembered that an NPA told him that the people they asked only spoke good things about him.
He recounted the NPA telling him: “Maayo man diay ka Sir (You are a good man).”
“Nahibal-an nila nga akong amahan mag-uuma pud unya Kagawad sa Barangay (They found out too, that my father who is a farmer is also Barangay Councilor),” he said.
Basabica said the NPAs found out his father was generous in the community.
“Manghatag na siya og bugas og mangayo sila (He gives rice whenever they ask),” he said.
“Nakita nila nga nagloan sa kasal, nasubay nila ang paningkamot nako sa pagskwela tungod sa kalisod (The NPAs saw documents of my loan for our wedding expenses, they found out too that I struggled to finish school),” he said.
He said his captors saw he also came from the poor sector.
“Ana gyud diay pud ang kinabuhi nga naglisud mi,” he said.
The NPAs promised to release him immediately with proper documents.
Life with the enemies
For more than two weeks, Basabica slept and ate with the government’s enemies.
However, he said he was “treated well” by the communists whom the government will target next after the fighting in Marawi.
“Everyday, ginamedikal ko nila bisan wala koy sakit
ginamedikal ko nila kada buntag kuhaan og BP (Everyday they would check up on me, even if I’m not sick they will take my vital signs),” he said.
Basabica said the NPAs woke him up everyday to give him food and vitamins.
Two women NPA medics attended to his health. Another NPA was assigned as his “custodian” who prepares his food.
He said the food he ate was better than the other NPAs.
Basabica said while the NPAs would usually eat dried fish, he was given Mechado in can or instant noodles, which he would share to everyone.
If there is milk available, he said, they would give him milk.
He said the NPAs even asked him what he would like to eat.
“Pero maulaw pud ko moingon ug wala man pud palitanan,” he said.
He asked the NPAs: “Ingon ani ba mo sa tanan (Are you like this to everyone?)”
His captors told him it is a policy they follow to treat their prisoner of war fairly.
“Nagasunod gyud ang NPA sa protocol. Karon pa ko kabalo nga nadakpan na ko nila (They do follow the protocols of war. It is just now that I found out about it after they arrested me),” he said.
Basabica said the NPAs did not use handcuffs on him except that he was not allowed to use his cellphone.
For 17 days, Basabica traversed the jungle where the forces of the NPA continue to wage war against the government.
Basabica said they walked from morning until night time evading soldiers.
He said there was only one instance when they got to rest for three days without walking.
The NPA said they were supposed to release them earlier since they found him not guilty of any crime against the people except that he is part of the Philippine National Police, but he said relentless pursuit operations prevented them from doing so.
“Bisan si Sir tinuod nga PO1 siya, sa panahon nga naaresto siya sa NPA non-combatant man siya, wala siya nagsukol, niuban ra pud siya sa amoa (Even if he is a PO1 when he was arrested, he was not in duty, he did not fight and he went with us peacefully),” said Ka Rene who spoke for the NPAs Front 25.
During Basabica’s release inside a hut at the center of a village in Barangay Binondo in Baganga town, Ka Rene said they have grown fond of the police officer.
“Ang tawag namo sa iyaha Sir Kas (We call him Sir Kas),” Ka Rene told reporters in an interview.
Kas is short for “Kasama,” a Filipino word for comrade.
He said they treated him as one of them.
“Kuyog siya namo sa grabeng sakripisyo para makahibalo mo tanan (He was with us during our sacrifices),” he said.
“Grabeng gukod gukod sa amoa sa mga sundalo para makuha si Sir. Pero kay dili man ni pelikula nga marescue nila si Sir. Kay kung musulod sila sa among posting magkabinuthanay (The soldiers were running after us because they want to rescue him but this is not the movies where they can rescue him. If they enter our posts we will fire at them),” the NPA leader said, adding that the police officer might be hurt if there was a fighting.
On the eve of his release, Basabica said the NPAs called his father and told them he will be freed the next day.
He said he only knew that he will be released on Thursday night.
They walked for hours to reach the village where he was met by his father, Alfredo Basabica Sr., his mother Edeline and his fiancee Princes Dacuycuy who is six months pregnant.
Basabica said he hugged his father first who got worried because news reached them that he was already dead.
The ceremony for his release was only held in less than an hour.
The flag of the Communist Party of the Philippines was made as the backdrop in a small hut where local officials, Basabica’s family, church leaders and the NPAs gathered.
In an interview with Davao Today, 54-year-old Edeline said her son is a good child and a good student.
“Sukad sa iyahang pagkabata wala gyud koy problema (Since he was a kid I never had problems with him),” she said.
Basabica, who was the fourth of eight children, was a varsity scholar from the University of Mindanao. Edeline said he only paid tuition for a semester.
He played for the school’s Karatedo team and competed in the regional and national tournaments. He even won gold medals.
Basabica will be married to a public school teacher, who is also a native “Katil-anon” like him.
He said his wedding day will probably be moved next month.
He said he will go back to serving as a police officer to help his family.
“Dawaton nako kung unsa man ang assignment nga ihatag nila (I will accept whatever assignment they will give me),” he said.
He said “only God knows” the purpose of why he was arrested.
Basabica and his family was taken to Davao City to meet with Special Assistant to the President Sec. Christopher “Bong” Go on Friday night.
Basabica said he was informed that he will meet with President Duterte this weekend.
His release came amidst the President’s termination of the peace negotiations with the Communists. (davaotoday.com)