TRIBUTE TO COMRADE LEONCIO PITAO (COMMANDER PARAGO)

Read during the Cultural Tribute to Ka Parago
at the NDF Information Office in Utrecht, July 26, 2015

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
Chief Political Consultant, National Democratic Front of the Philippines

Comrades and Friends, I join the Filipino people, the people’s revolutionary government, the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the revolutionary mass organizations and other revolutionary forces in mourning the death of Comrade Leoncio Pitao (Commander Parago) and in celebrating his achievements from the time he joined the NPA in 1978 until his martyrdom on June 28, 2015.

It is fitting and proper that all of us accord him with the Red salute and the highest respect and honor for serving the Filipino people and the international proletariat. He is a great patriot, outstanding communist fighter and revolutionary commander. He has made significant contributions and the supreme sacrifice in the Filipino people’s democratic revolution for national and social liberation against foreign monopoly capitalism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.

Comrade Leoncio Pitao (Ka Parago) was devoted to the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and applied it successfully together with other comrades and the people in Southern Mindanao Region. He excelled as a cadre of the Communist Party of the Philippines and as a commander of the New People’s Army. He adhered to the Second Great Rectification Movement and carried forward the building of the Party, the people’s army and the united front.

In advancing the people’s war, he integrated revolutionary struggle with land reform and building the organs of political power and mass organization. He applied the line of extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare on the basis of a widening and deepening mass base. He developed the closest of relations with the working people, the indigenous people and allies.

He had a mastery of the strategy and tactics of guerrilla warfare, flexibly employing concentration, dispersal and shifting, depending on the need in a fluid war of movement. He became known nationally and internationally for the revolutionary victories as commander of the First Pulang Bagani Company in the Southern Mindanao Region.

As a result of correct political line and his effective tactical command, this heroic and glorious company has grown into the First Pulang Bagani Battalion. According to the Southern Mindanao Regional Command, Ka Parago planned and commanded the countless disarming operations in the 1980s and 1990s, the capture of General Obillo and Capt. Montealto in 1999, the raid on the Davao Penal Colony and other many tactical offensives.

Ka Parago was captured in November 1999 and was put in solitary confinement in the ISAFP headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo. He was offered by the enemy a huge amount of money as bribe for him to leave and denounce the revolutionary movement. But he outrightly refused the offer and upheld his loyalty and commitment to the Filipino people and the revolution.

The lawyers of the Public Interest Law Center and the Department of Justice pleaded to the court for his release as a goodwill measure of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. It was during this time that the Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel Luis Jalandoni and panel member Coni Ledesma were able to visit him and hold a press conference with him. Ka Parago was released from prison in 2001.

After his release, Ka Parago decided to rejoin the comrades in the countryside. And he continued to render outstanding service to the revolutionary cause of the Filipino people, especially in the battlefield. The enemy hated him so much that military agents abducted, tortured, raped and murdered his 22-year old daughter Rebelyn, a school teacher, and dumped her in a ditch in Panabo City in 2009. This barbarity became the subject of outrage among the people and human rights organizations in the Philippines and abroad.

Despite the abduction, torture, rape and murder of his daughter, he continued as a principled revolutionary to respect the policy of the CPP and NPA for according lenient treatment to prisoners of war as well as the International Humanitarian Law regarding respect for the human rights of the said prisoners. Exercising political wisdom, he went so far as issuing a statement to assure the families of enemy officers and men that there would be no retaliation on them. As a matter of justice under the people’s government, he sought out for punishment only those identified as the abductors and killers of his daughter.

So successful were the tactical offensives commanded by Ka Parago that prisoners were often captured. He and the Red fighters under his command used the necessary amount of force to achieve victory. But they were lenient and kind to the enemy officers and men who surrendered or survived the battle. The bodies of the dead were respected. The wounded were treated by NPA medical officers. The prisoners received the same food as the NPA fighters. They were released as soon as possible, as long as they were not liable for any serious criminal offense.

For an extended period already, Ka Parago had been ill with diabetes, hyperthyroidism, hepatitis and hypertension. He was under medical treatment at the time of his death. The comrades had advised him to take a leave for medical treatment outside his area of command but he insisted on staying close to the people. Investigation by the revolutionary authorities has established that on June 28, 2015 at 2:30 p.m., an enemy team raided Purok 9 of barangay Pañalum in the Paquibato district of Davao City, where Ka Parago was undergoing medical care, and that there was no encounter between units of the NPA and the enemy.

The enemy immediately raked Ka Parago with automatic fire upon sight of him. His unarmed medical aide Ka Kyle or Vanessa Limpag had the chance to raise her hands and shout that she was a medic. But she was mowed down by the enemy raiding team. The enemy has withdrawn the photo and video it previously published, showing the murdered Ka Parago in his homewear and barefooted, with two obviously planted Armalite rifles for photo takingclose to his and Ka Vanessa’s bodies .

The enemy in its propaganda is gloating over their brutal killing of Ka Parago and his medical aide. It is boasting that the revolutionary movement is “declining”. It is oblivious of the fact that before Ka Parago died he was able to educate and train so many revolutionary successors in 37 years of revolutionary struggle. In recent years, months and days, the reactionary armed forces and unwelcome foreign monopoly enterprises have been receiving lethal blows from the NPA in the Southern Mindanao region.

Ka Parago continues to live and fight for national liberation and democracy through his successors in the CPP, NPA and the mass movement. After his heroic martyrdom, his successors are inspired and are ever more determined to fight for a new and better world.

The reactionary armed forces have concentrated more than 50 per cent of their strength in Eastern Mindanao in the vain hope of defeating the NPA here since sometime ago. But within this area, the NPA has enough room for maneuver. The forces of the NPA are also taking advantage of the reduced strength of the reactionary armed forces in other parts of Mindanao and in the Visayas and Luzon in order to wage tactical offensives. These are not being reported fully by the bourgeois mass media.

There is no way for the imperialists and the local reactionaries to stop the growth of the CPP, NPA, the mass organizations and organs of political powers, because the crisis of the world capitalist system and the domestic ruling system of big compradors and landlords is ever worsening and the broad masses of the people detest the intolerable conditions of oppression and exploitation and are desirous of revolutionary change.

Long live the memory of Comrade Leoncio Pitao!
Advance the revolutionary cause which he fought and died for!
Long live the revolutionary struggle in Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon!
Carry forward the Philippine revolution!
Long live the Filipino people!