After being held captive by the New People’s Army for 133 days, Army soldier Private First Class Adonis Jess M. Lupiba has been set free Friday.
In a turnover ceremony held in Barangay Kaulayanan, Sugbongcogon, Misamis Oriental, the 26-year-old soldier was turned over to officials of the local crisis committee headed by Gov. Yevgeny Vicente Emano and third party facilitators led by Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Felixberto Calang.
Lupiba was held captive by NPA rebels after he surrendered in the middle of a firefight in Barangay Alagatan in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental last July 11.
He yielded to the rebels to save civilians caught in the crossfire that resulted in the death of Corporal Nadir Bairulla and the wounding of two civilians.
“I could have chosen to fight because I was hidden in a fortified position but when I heard the cries from civilians, I had to lay down my firearm. I told the rebels I will surrender if they stop firing,” Lupiba recalled.
Allan Juanito, secretary general of the NPA’s North Central Mindanao Committee, was accompanied by some 100 armed rebels during the turnover. He said Lupiba was freed because he did not commit any crime against the revolutionary movement and the people.
Lupiba was welcomed by his wife, Henelou, and his family.
The following day, Lupiba was given a hero’s welcome by the Army 4th Division during the flag raising ceremony at Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro City.
In a statement, 4ID commander Major General Oscar Lactao lauded Lupiba’s heroism, “It takes courage to display willingness to put yourself in peril for the sake of your fellowmen. However, it takes more courage to risk and offer your life in exchange of the lives of your fellowmen,” he said.
Lupiba’s heroic act also earned him a promotion to the rank of Corporal.