EDITORIAL| Kumander Parago

WHEN news broke that Parago Sandoval was killed in a clash with government forces, some could not quite believe it. He has been, after all, reported killed in many instances. He has become some sort of a legend, prowling the mountains of Paquibato with revolutionary fervor that has made his area almost impenetrable to the soldiers. He has lived in these mountains since the 70s, long after his peers left the movement and joined the mainstream.

He has remained elusive, only coming out every now and then to release a captive soldier. To most of the media covering such events, Parago was seen as level headed, maybe even a little detached from all the media hulabaloo that usually ensue during turn over rites. Flipping through photos taken during these events, Parago is seen smiling benignly beside Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Mindanews reporter Keith Bacongco quoted Parago as saying that he will never be captured alive again. This self prophesy became true last Sunday at 2:30 pm when he and another comrade were killed in an encounter with the Task Force Minion, a combined force of the 69th IB, 6th Scout Ranger Company, 2nd Scout Ranger Batttalion, Intelligence Service of the AFP and some officials of the 73rd IB and Military Intelligence Battalion, organized by the Eastmincom solely to hunt Parago.

Parago, or Leoncio Pitao, went underground in 1977 and became head of the Southern Mindanao Regional Command. He had a long list of charges and had 17 standing warrants of arrest for murder, multiple frustrated murder, robbery, abduction and carnapping.

He had become a target, an arch enemy of the government forces. He was the face of the rebel movement. By crushing Parago, they believed the movement will also be crushed. But as stories of revolutions go, one can kill a leader but not the principles behind the struggle. Unless the economic and political situation has changed for the better or if an equitable negotiated peace agreement is forged, there will always be other Paragos who will rise and take his place.

Posted in Opinion