Zamboanga del Norte man recounts rescue from kidnappers, thanks troops
Rex Triplitt, 64, poses with Army and police police personnel after his rescue Wednesday at Sitio Banalan, Barangay Pisa Itom, Sirawai town, Zamboanga del Norte.
Western Mindanao Command photo release
Zamboanga del Norte man recounts rescue from kidnappers, thanks troops
Roel Pareño ( - October 1, 2020 - 5:28pm

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Rescued kidnap victim Rex Triplitt, a Filpino farmer of American descent, narrated how he was saved under a hail of bullets after troops assaulted his captors in the hinterland of Sirawai town, Zamboanga del Norte.

Triplitt said it was a rescue that he had only previously seen in movies and that he never imagined he would be in the middle of.

The farmer was rescued Wednesday at Sitio Banalan, Barangay Pisa Itom, Sirawai by soldiers of the Army's 42nd Infantry Battalion.

"We were walking on the trail with five of my captors guarding  me when suddenly a burst of gunfire came,” said Triplitt, 64, a farmer of Barangay Piacan who was abducted from his village on September 16.

Triplitt, who was presented to the media on Thursday to military, police, and local government officials of Sirawai town said he quickly dropped to the ground as the volume of fire increased and his captors scampered out of his sight

"Moments later I heard somebody speaking in Tagalog — 'He's here, sir. Positive, sir' as the trooper examined my face. And immediately I declared 'I am the kidnap victim!' Triplitt said.

Triplitt said firing continued and, with bullets flying overhead, the trooper securing him told him to stay on the ground.

"The trooper then shouted for covering fire and we dashed away with him covering me," Triplitt said.

The victim thanked the soldiers and the government for rescuing him alive.

"I survived because of their operation, they rescued me. Many thanks to all of you, Philippine Army, police, and all government troops. Long live to all of you," Triplitt said in front of local officials.

Sirawai Mayor Gamar Janihim commended the military and police for the safe recovery of Triplitt, adding it was the first time in the town that a kidnapping victim was rescued immediately.

"Thank you very much because, for the first time, the kidnap incident in Sirawai was immediately resolved through the full support of the PNP, the AFP, and the Navy as well," Janihim said.

At the same ceremony, Lt. Gen. Vinluan, Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, conferred a Gold Cross Medal on 1Lt. Jessie Jun Ebalan for his courage and gallantry in action in leading the rescue.

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