PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur – A military official of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division attributed his faith in God in surviving the dreaded coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

“This is the second time that I fought against death,” Lt. Col. Froilan Labador, Division Service Support Battalion commander, said in the vernacular during an interview on Saturday.

Labador was one of the two Covid-19 patients recorded in the province–  the other was a 62-year-old female resident here.

He tested positive for Covid-19 on March 30 and cleared of the virus on April 6 as he was declared negative when retested.

Labador had traveled to Taguig City and returned home via Zamboanga City on March 14. He was admitted to the Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center on March 17 after manifesting symptoms of Covid-19.

Second brush with death

Covid-19 was his second encounter with death, Labador said, the first one was in Bohol when he was still a junior officer.

Labador was then a captain when he was severely injured and had his jaw dislocated by an improvised explosive device (IED) blast at the height of a firefight against a group of communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Bohol.

“But I survived, thinking that I was fighting against those who stood against the government,” he said.

“And now it’s Covid-19,” Labador said, as he recalled that strong faith and prayer for healing was what saved him from the dreaded virus.

“I do not know what God has in store for me, but I prayed hard, and it’s the only reason I knew why I survived,” Labador said.

After learning he was positive for Covid-19, he said the first person that came to mind was his wife, who accompanied him to an airport in Manila.

“We even had a meal before I flew to Zamboanga City. I worried so much about her and the rest of the family,” he said.

He was relieved after learning that Philippine Army officials in Manila immediately acted after he was listed as a patient under investigation (PUI).

Contact-tracing was immediately conducted and all those he met in Manila were placed under quarantine, he said.

No discrimination

After his discharge at the Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center in Pagadian City on April 7, he expected the 1st Infantry Division at Camp Cesar Sang-an to be stricter on its lockdown measures because of him.

“I expected that it will be an empty camp when I will arrive,” he said.

However, he was elated by the warm welcome accorded to his by the officials and personnel of the command.

“Instead of hiding, they all showed their care and concern,” he said, wishing that all other Covid-19 patients could also be accorded with the same respect and care.

Labador advised all Covid-19 patients and suspected cases to “patiently, though difficult, follow all the standard operating procedures while under quarantine.”

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Generoso Pionio, Army’s 1st Infantry Division commander, said he is proud that one of their officers overcame the ravages of the virus.

Ponio thanked the Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center health workers for taking care of Labador.

“He (Labador) has contributed a lot for our country, it is high time that we should honor, show to him how a hero must be treated in challenging times,” Ponio said.

Ponio urged the public to cooperate with the government and front-liners as well as to show the world the Filipinos’ spirit of Bayanihan to heal as one. (PNA)

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