In life and in death, they have remained an unfading inspiration to the entire revolutionary forces and the masses. Their selfless commitment to serve the exploited and oppressed, their unflinching sacrifices and their relentless perseverance and valor bespeak of the communist spirit. Their significant contributions to the revolutionary movement and the people’s democratic revolution for national liberation and social transformation cannot be ignored. For these they have been loved, revered and emulated.
Their mastery of the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist (MLM) principles was manifested in the excellence of their practice.
Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal was born to a peasant family and worked his way to school by peddling mosquito nets and as a landowner’s help. He became a member of Kabataang Makabayan and later an organizer of farm workers at Batangas Sugar Central in Balayan, Batangas. He was arrested and jailed in Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Laguna during the Martial Law years but was able to escape prison. He then joined the armed struggle in the countryside, building, consolidating and expanding guerrilla bases in Southern Tagalog Region and Quezon-Bicol Zone. But the task he loved most was propaganda work where he truly excelled.
As Spokesperson of the CPP and NDFP, Ka Roger Rosal’s voice reverberated throughout the archipelago to awaken the masses with his sharp analysis of their situation and issues as he exposed the causes and refuted the lies peddled by the reactionaries. He used a language so simple but its truthfulness and closeness to the experience of the masses makes it understandable. His honest concern for the interest of the oppressed pierced their feelings and bolstered their courage to take the same revolutionary path that Ka Roger put to challenge. Meanwhile, his acerbic attacks on the puppet government, on imperialism, on the landlords and compradors not only intimidated them, not only enraged them, but also crippled them.
Leoncio “Commander Parago” Pitao joined the New People’s Army in 1978. He had applied the theory and practice of MLM successfully. He held on to the correct political line as he built organs of political power and mass organizations. He pursued land reform while advancing the struggle. He also developed close ties with the masses – the peasants, workers, and indigenous people, as well as built relations with allies. A brilliant strategist and tactician in guerrilla warfare, he led the First Pulang Bagani Company in the Southern Mindanao Region to many victorious offensives against the state military forces. Commander Parago was the most famous commander of his time. As he was recognized both nationally and internationally, the local reactionary forces dreaded and hated him.
Commander Parago was captured by enemy forces in 1999 but was released on recognizance in 2001, a confidence and goodwill measure for the resumption of the peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP. Upon release, he went back to the countryside to continue with the struggle.
Both Ka Roger and Commander Parago had lived with the masses for decades, zealously serving them, protecting them and helping them with their problems. They loved the masses so much and they in turn were dearly loved by them. The huge funeral marches during their funerals showed the outpouring of support and love for them of the masses.
Ka Roger suffered his first major heart attack in 1997 but he chose to stay in the countryside, climbing mountains, crossing rivers and seacoasts and facing dangers of enemy assaults. He died on June 22, 2011 at 64. His body were buried in a secret grave among the masses to hide it from the enemy. It was only in March 2016, upon the request of his family, that his urn of ashes was interred in his hometown in Ibaan, Batangas.
For some time also, Commander Parago had been sick with diabetes, hyperthyroidism, hepatitis and hypertension. His comrades advised him to take a leave for medical treatment and rest outside the area of his command but he opted to stay and live with the masses. On June 28, 2015, an enemy team raided Purok 9 of Barangay Panalum in the Paquibato District of Davao City where Parago was undergoing medical treatment by medic Vanessa Limpag, Ka Kyle. The enemy immediately riddled Commander Parago with bullets upon sight of him. Vanessa, who had raised her hand and made known that she was a medic was also gunned down. Leoncio Pitao passed away at 57.
In contrast to the lenient and humane treatment that Commander Parago rendered to captured enemies and prisoners of war, he was summarily killed in stark violation of International Humanitarian Law.
Ka Roger and Commander Parago might have fallen and gone but the legacy they left will live on. It will continue to inspire the education and training of so many revolutionaries, who will carry and pass on the torch until the victory of the Philippine revolution. It will prevail in the burning desire they sowed in the hearts of the masses to be freed from the bondage of exploitation and oppression. Every revolutionary will strive to emulate the exemplary lives they lived, the paragon of communist virtues in their being.
Contrary to the reactionary Armed Forces of the Philippines’ belief that the revolution would weaken with the death of Ka Roger and Commander Parago, it even grew stronger delivering fatal blows to the enemy. The First Pulang Bagani Company has since become a battalion. The successors to Ka Roger and Commander Parago have become more determined to advance the revolution to victory.
The grief over the loss of our beloved comrades and valiant heroes has turned into revolutionary courage as a lasting tribute to their treasured memory.