Leoncio ¨Ka Parago¨ Pitao: Radiant Red star of the revolution

A Tribute by Southern Mindanao Regional Party Committee-CPP

He was their favorite villain. Portrayed as a sinister symbol, he was pursued in ways mostly vicious. He was demonized like no other. Pictured as a menace, his destruction was sought by means always despicable.

After continuous counter-revolutionary campaigns of suppression and military intelligence operations that spanned four decades and six puppet regimes, the fascists and oppressors now rejoice to their hearts’ content. They have killed the man. The one that they called a criminal and a terrorist is finally dead. They have all the reasons to: for this staunchly-loathed man was Leoncio “Ka Parago” Pitao, an enemy of US Imperialism, the oppressive and exploitative Philippine state and their fascist armed forces.

But unlike them, a vast number of Filipinos is in grief.

The Southern Mindanao Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the people of Southern Mindanao thus accord its most profound salute to Ka Parago who was killed in a raid on 28 June 2015 in Brgy. Panalum, Paquibato District, Davao City.

Ka Parago, Leoncio Pitao to his town mates in Brgy. Balite, Loreto, Agusan Sur was born of poor farmers. His father was a lowly peasant who tilled a small piece of land and augmented the family income as a tuba gatherer. The very hard life they lived, and the poverty and hunger everywhere, stirred up the young Parago to ask the question why; his search for an answer brought him to the revolution.

At the young age of 22, he joined the NPA. This was in 1979, during the brutal years of martial law amid harsh socio-economic conditions, when the revolutionary movement in Mindanao was in its nascent stage and there were just a few hundred NPA Red fighters in the island.

With the comrades, Ka Parago organized and taught the lumads and peasants to defend their lands and stand up for their rights. He fought the big loggers who appropriated the forests and prohibited the settlers from populating their areas. Wherever he went, Ka Parago worked hard for the interest and welfare of the poor. He would always say “it is for them, the farmers and workers and lumads, that we are here. We can never, should never rest until we see that their problems are solved.”

Revolutionary work in the countryside taught Ka Parago the intricacies of the people’s war. Very soon, he was leading a company, and later a battalion of Red fighters. He was more than a general in his comprehensive, hands-on practice in the war front. Ka Parago was one of the best offspring of the new democratic revolution. He showed attributes of an exceptional Red fighter and communist party member. After doing significant tasks at the district and guerrilla front levels, he was eventually assigned to regional level duties and responsibilities in the NPA. As a commander of the New People’s Army, Ka Parago led and trained so many young warriors in the art of war: from the1980s to the 1990s where they launched countless disarming operations with nary a single shot fired, to the capture of Gen. Victor Obillo and Capt. Eduardo Montealto in 1999, to the raid of the Davao Penal Colony in 2007 and the many outstanding tactical offensives mounted by the Pulang Bagani Companies of Southern Mindanao.

Despite these achievements, Ka Parago remained humble and was always open to criticism in order to improve his understanding of the situation and his styles and methods of work. Ka Parago’s star shone most brilliantly during the Second Great Rectification Movement and onwards. His grasp of the rectification campaign was a big influence to the NPA commanders in the region to comprehend and follow the Party’s national call thereby instituting the correct interplay of base building, agrarian revolution and the armed struggle.

For the revolutionary people who came to know, work and struggle with him, he was a dear comrade, a dedicated proletarian revolutionary and outstanding people’s army commander. Firm as a fortress, he was deeply founded on the ideology and practice of Marxism Leninism Maoism.

He profoundly grasped the mass line, lived and fought with the masses for national freedom and genuine democracy. He was truly grounded on the people. In return, the masses embraced and protected him and what he represents as their own.

The reactionary government has tried but failed to co-opt Ka Parago to turn his back on the movement. When he was detained and tortured in 1999, and the enemy tempted him with “reward money,” he remained steadfast in his convictions and ever faithful to the Communist spirit of defending the interest and security of the people and the revolutionary forces. Ka Parago was a radiant Red star of the revolution.

Even when he was very angry and grieving over the tragic death of his young daughter Rebelyn who was raped and killed by the military intelligence operatives (MIG 21) of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces (ISAFP) in 2009, Ka Parago exercised political wisdom.

Ka Parago remained strong and vigilant in the face of countless enemy operations and attacks from the Marcos dictatorship to the current US-Aquino regime. Through the years, one contingent after another from the fascist armed forces hounded him but failed. It was only when he was very sick and weak—which the military knew beforehand—that they finally caught up on him.

Ka Parago was killed while undergoing treatment for his lingering illnesses. He had diabetes, hepatitis and hyperthyroidism which forced him to slow down in the midst of relentless military operations of the AFP. The medic, Ka Kyle (Vanessa Limpag) who was treating and nursing him was also razed to the ground. Well-oriented of her right under Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions, she had already raised her arms and was shouting that she was a medic, but was gunned down just the same by the raiding team.

Maj. Gen Eduardo Ano of the 10th Infantry Division and Lt.Gen Aurelio Baladad of the Eastern Mindanao Command and the Special Operations Command of the AFP are proud and happy for this “singular achievement” of having killed a very sick man and an unarmed medic. They have brazenly disregarded the Rules of Engagement of the Geneva Convention and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law (CARHR-IHL). They should be held accountable for the death of a medical personnel. It is very clear that in the current practice of the reactionary armed forces, the military kills indiscriminately and with impunity.

Ka Parago deserves the highest proletarian revolutionary honor and recognition. As we join all revolutionaries and progressives in celebrating his meaningful life and in mourning his treacherous killing, we declare that those who rejoice in his death are grossly mistaken to even imagine the demise of the revolutionary movement.

The 10th Infantry Division-Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines obscures the strength of the people’s war and legitimacy of the revolution by parading body bags, victims and fake surrenders, to justify its huge spending and defend the status quo. Their own declaration that the revolution is leaderless is unfounded and a figment of imagination. Time and again, they declare that the revolution is dead, but the sheer immensity and ferocity of their operations in the countryside and the mounting casualties on their side mock their assertion. Only a desperate army like the AFP can make such a gross underestimation in the face of the surging people’s war. In fact, it is the US-Aquino regime that is suffering from a leadership crisis, as the ruling class is further racked with warring factions who are all rearing to gain the upper hand in the next election circus.

On the other hand, the people in Southern Mindanao, and especially the lumads and peasants in the guerilla bases remember Ka Parago as their most beloved “Tatay” who was always at their side, ready to listen and to help, so unlike the AFP generals who continue to attack and burden the people with their atrocities and harassments.

Ka Parago lived very simply; he was the exact opposite of the corrupt generals of the AFP who must certainly be fighting now over the so-called “Php 5.6 million bounty” on his head. Ka Parago’s spartan life and his boundless sense of responsibility became an enduring example for every revolutionary who knew him and worked with him. As a matter of fact, for many years since the onset of his illnesses, he repeatedly declined the Party’s offer of a sick leave. All he wanted until his last dying breath was to live with the lumads and peasant masses and to serve them.

Truly, Ka Parago lives on in the hearts of the people. He will remain as the rallying cry that will move people to work and fight for the National Democratic Revolution. As we honor his death, thousands of young revolutionaries who have been inspired by this great guerilla warrior now follow in his footsteps. We shall always cherish Ka Parago in life and in death. Like him, we shall persevere and do our share in delivering heavy blows on the fascist oppressors and exploiters until the day the Filipino people are liberated from national oppression and class exploitation.Let a thousand, nay, tens of thousands of Ka Parago pierce the rotten US-Aquino regime and its successor. The masses and comrades grieve his death, yes, but they turn this grief to greater revolutionary passion and commitment as the people’s war goes on.

For the Regional Party Committee
Southern Mindanao