DAVAO CITY – The Army’s touted “notorious” commander of the New People’s Army remained strong and vigilant under no less than five regimes, until he was killed in a raid while getting treatment for his diabetes.

In a statement to the press, the Southern Mindanao Regional Command of the NPA and the entire revolutionary forces expressed their “deepest and most profound salute to a great leader and warrior, Ka Parago” who “served the national democratic revolution for close to 37 years.”

The NPA said Ka Parago remained strong and vigilant under no less than five reactionary regimes, from the Marcos dictatorship to the current US-Aquino regime.

Ka Parago, whose real name is Leoncio Pitao, 57, was killed in a raid together with guerrilla medic Vanessa Limpag, aka Ka Kyle, at 2:30 pm on Sunday in Barangay Panalum, Paquibato District, Davao City.

NPA spokesperson Rigoberto F. Sanchez said “Ka Parago was being treated for his diabetes, hyperthyroidism and hepatitis when the raiding team composed of the 6th Scout Ranger Company, 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion under the 1st Scout Ranger Regiment peppered him with bullets.”

Sanchez said Limpag who was treating Ka Parago “had already raised her arms, shouting that she was a medic, when she too was razed to the ground by the military.  She died instantly.”

“The Philippine Army must be very proud and happy to have killed a very sick man and an unarmed medic,” Sanchez said.

“They have no regard at all for the rules of engagement under the protocols of war as specified in the Geneva Convention and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. They kill with impunity,” Sanchez said.

On Monday morning, the Army in a press conference at the Grand Regal Hotel here presented a PowerPoint presentation to media dubbed “The End of Notoriety”, where Parago and Limpag were shown lying lifeless with long firearms beside them.

Major General Eduardo Año, chief of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said Parago had multiple standing warrants for various crimes he allegedly committed.

But Sanchez said Parago “spent the greater part of his adult life serving the people, in unstinting dedication to the cause of national democracy.”

“As a Red commander, he led and trained so many young warriors in the art of guerrilla warfare,” said Sanchez.

Parago was known for “his countless disarming operations in the 1980s and 1990s to the capture of (Brigadier General Victor Obillo) and (Captain Eduardo Montealto) in 1999 to the raid of Davao Penal Colony and the countless tactical offensives mounted by the Pulang Bagani Company.”

Sanchez said when Parago was detained in 1999 and the enemy offered him so much “reward money,” “he never turned his back to the people and the revolution.”

“He remained stalwart in his convictions and ever faithful to the communist spirit of defending the security of the revolutionary forces and the interest of the people,” said Sanchez.

“Even when he was grieving and agonizing over the tragic death of his daughter Rebelyn who was raped and killed by military intelligence operatives in 2009, Ka Parago exercised political wisdom,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez said Parago lived “very simply, unlike the corrupt generals of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines).”

“As a matter of fact, for many years since the onset of his illness, he declined the Party’s offer of a sick leave. All he wanted to his last dying breath was to live with the masses and to serve them,” he said.

Parago’s death, according to the Army, will bring “lasting peace”.

Lt. General Aurelio B. Baladad, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, in news reports, said the Army will still conduct pursuit operations against the remaining NPA fighters in Paquibato whose number is estimated to be “less than 40”. Baladad called on the NPAs to “return to the folds of law”.

Año also said Pitao’s death will weaken the ranks of the NPAs in Davao Region.

Sanchez, however, said “thousands of young revolutionaries who have been inspired by Parago will follow his footsteps.”

“The masses and the comrades grieve his death, yes, but they turn his grief to greater revolutionary fervor as the people’s war goes on,” Sanchez said. (davaotoday.com)

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