by Luis Jalandoni
Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel
Read at the Cultural Tribute to Ka Parago at the NDF Information Office on July 26, 2015
“Long live the revolution! Long live the masses!” Dying words of NPA Commander Ka Parago, as enemy soldiers riddled him with bullets.
Ka Leoncio Pitao, Kumander Parago, joined the New People’s Army in 1978 after his father was killed by government troops in Loreto, Agusan del Sur.
He lived with the masses, loved them and sowed the seeds of the revolution in their hearts. He became known and honored as the protector of the poor and oppressed. The massses in the Southern Mindanao region fondly called him “Tatay, or Ka Ago”.
He became a legendary guerrilla fighter and commander, leading numerous daring tactical offensives against enemy forces of the reactionary Philippine regime supported by US imperialism.
Among his guerrilla unit’s outstanding achievements was the daring raid of the Davao Penal Colony in April 2007. Confiscated were five M16s, 45 Carbines, 46 Shotguns and seven .38 Caliber pistols. The tactical offensive was completed in 20 minutes, without firing a shot. The guards were surprised and disarmed. None of them was hurt.
In February 1999 he led in the capture of Army General Victor Obillo and Captain Alex Montealto. Commander Parago worked with the NDFP Negotiating Panel to cause their release to the International Committee of the Red Cross and government officials, Senator Loren Legarda, Secretary of Justice and GRP Panel Member Silvestre H. Bello III in April 1999. NDFP Chief Legal Counsel Romeo T. Capulong and NDFP Political Consultant Sotero Llamas were present for the highly publicized release.
General Obillo, upon his release, praised Commander Parago for according him and Capt. Montealto humane treatment during their captivity. At one time, Obillo said, he was given an alcoholic drink because he was chilling in the cold mountains, although NPA fighters were not allowed to have alcoholic drinks. Obillo further expressed admiration for Parago’s mastery of the terrain.
Parago was captured in November 1999. Ka Coni Ledesma, NDFP Negotiating Panel Member and I were privileged to visit him in prison in Camp Aguinaldo. Together with lawyer Edre Olalia, a press conference was held in the prison. During the press conference and conversations with us, he expressed his profound desire to go back to his beloved masses in Mindanao. He was released in recognizance in September 2001 to Supreme Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church, Tomas A. Millamena. His release was a confidence and goodwill measure to foster the resumption of peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP. These negotiations were about to be held in Oslo with the Royal Norwegian Government as the official Third Party Facilitator.
After his release he reunited with his beloved masses in Mindanao and reassumed his outstanding role in their revolutionary struggle. In the face of the escalating military attacks of the enemy against the people, Commander Parago led daring and successful NPA operations. The enemy’s hatred and fear of him intensified.
In 2009, government agents abducted, raped and murdered his daughter, Rebelyn. This did not stop him from continuing to fight the enemy. Despite his rage against the enemy’s vile act of rape and murder of his daughter, he adhered to the policy of the revolutionary movement to accord humane treatment to captives of the NPA and arrange their safe and orderly release as Prisoners of War, if they were not liable for serious criminal offenses against the people. But some of those enemy agents identified in the murder and rape of his daughter were subjected to revolutionary justice.
For some time it has been known to the comrades and the masses that Ka Parago has been ill with diabetes, hyperthyrodism, hepatitis and hypertension, and he could hardly walk. He was offered a leave to get rest and medical treatment, but he refused. He decided to stay and live with the masses.
He was undergoing medical treatment by medic Ka Kyle or Vanessa Limpag, when the enemy riddled Commander Parago with bullets. Ka Kyle was able to raise her hands and shout that she was a medic, but she too was razed to the ground. She died instantly.
In stark contrast to the humane treatment accorded by Commander Parago to General Obillo, Capt. Montealto and other Prisoners of War, the troops under General Ano summarily killed Commander Parago and his medic, Vanessa Limpag. Gerneral Ano and his troops are subject to investigation for violating international humanitarian law, CARHRIHL and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) for killing Commander Parago and Vanessa Limpag as hors de combat, among others. The units under General Ano, notorious for involvement in the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos, must also be investigated for extrajudicial killings of indigenous peoples’ leaders, the closing of Lumad schools, and encampment by soldiers of schools and other public places.
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines joins the masses in Mindanao and throughout the country, the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the organs of political power in mourning the death of the great revolutionary, the outstanding NPA commander, and people’s martyr and hero, Kasamang Leoncio Pitao, Kumander Parago. We turn our grief into revolutionary courage.
The revolutionary spirit and legacy of Kumander Parago lives on in the thousands of revolutionary fighters he has trained and the revolutionary masses in whose hearts he sowed the seeds of revolution. “Tatay to the masses he loved and served, his undying fighting spirit will be a beacon of inspiration for the Philippine revolution and the masses!
Mabuhay ang rebolusyonaryong diwa ni Kasamang Leoncio Pitao, Kumander Parago!
Mabuhay ang masa at ang Rebolusyong Pilipino!
Mabuhay ang CPP, NPA at NDFP!
Mabuhay ang Sambayanang Pilipino!
LUIS G. JALANDONI
MEMBER, NDFP NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE