DAVAO CITY – The New People’s Army confirmed the death of Commander Parago by a combined Army task force in Paquibato Sunday.
Ka Simon Santiago, political director of the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command, confirmed the death of Ka Parago but refuted Army claims that it was the result of an encounter.
Santiago said, “the Army lied because they killed Parago in a raid in Barangay Panalum, Paquibato.”
A press release from Army’s 10th Infantry Division said Leoncio Pitao alias Parago the commander of the NPA’s Pulang Bagani Company and one Kyle were killed Sunday in an encounter at Purok 9, Barangay Panalum at 2:30 pm.
First Lieutenant Vergel Lacambra, 10th ID spokesperson said “combined elements of 10th ID’s Task Force Minion formed several months ago to capture one of the country’s most notorious NPA leader caught up with Parago’s group triggering a twenty-minute firefight.”
Lacambra said “recovered from the encounter site were two M16 rifles, three backpacks and several rounds of rifle grenades.”
“The still unidentified slain female rebel is believed to be Parago’s medical aide,” he said.
NPA’s Santiago hailed Parago’s courage and sacrifice saying “he has diabetes and hypertension and was urged by comrades to go out of the area for medical treatment but he refused to leave the masses of Paquibato.”
Santiago said they “challenge the Army to turnover Ka Parago’s life, his dead body, to his family members.”
In a press conference today, Major General Eduardo Año, commanding general of the 10th ID said the death of Parago is “the start of the decline of the NPA in the (Davao) region.”
Año, who personally heads “Task Force Minion” formed and tasked only to hunt Ka Parago, said Army forces were serving 17 warrants of arrest against him when the said encounter ensued.
Task Force Minion involved troops from the Army’s 1003rd Brigade, 69th Infantry Battalion, 10th Military Intelligence Battalion and Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
However, Santiago said “Ka Parago already sowed the seeds of the revolution to advance and fight against oppression.”
Ka Parago is considered the most “elusive” NPA commander in the Davao region, and had the distinction of being the only NPA commander in the country to have captured the highest ranking military officer when his unit captured B/Gen. Victor Obillo on February 17,1999.
Ka Parago was once arrested at his house in Bago Gallera, Davao City on November 2, 1999 and was later released in 2001.
He was known to lead the NPA’s 1st Pulang Bagani Company, now 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion, in the hinterlands of Davao City’s Paquibato District and Davao del Norte.
Parago’s daughter Rebelyn was adbucted and raped by alleged elements of the Army in 2009 whom Parago himself named after an investigation said to be conducted by the NPA themselves.
Ka Parago last appeared before the media with Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in 2013 to release five members of the Army whom the NPA captured and declared as “prisoners of war.” (davaotoday.com)