Photos by Barry Ohaylan
PEPP statement on the murder
of Rebelyn Pitao and others
The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform condemns in strongest terms the
brutal murder of Rebelyn Pitao, 20-yr old daughter of Leoncio Pitao, aka
“Ka Parago”, a known ranking leader of the New People's Army (NPA) in
Rebelyn was just 20 years old and starting on a teaching career -- helping
to shape the minds and lives of young people. But her life was snuffed out
in a most wicked, dastardly and cowardly manner.
Rebelyn Pitao, notwithstanding the connotation to her name and being the
daughter of an NPA leader, is an unarmed civilian and a non-combatant in
the armed conflict. Her abduction and murder is a heinous crime and a
gross violation of human rights. International Humanitarian Law provides
that family members or relatives of persons belonging to an armed force in
the conflict, who are non-combatants or do not participate in the armed
hostilities, are not legitimate targets of military operations and should
thus be spared and protected from these. Moreover, they should not be used
as pawns or as bait to get at their kin.
What the perpetrators did to Rebelyn is inhuman and un-Christian. They did
not simply take God’s gift of life, they also punished Rebelyn for the
supposed “sins” of her father. To paraphrase the Psalms, “do not punish us
for the sins of our fathers…”(Psalms 79:8). Leoncio Pitao’s only “sin” if
it is a sin at all, is to bear arms against what he perceives are the ills
of Philippine society. Rebelyn was the second member of his family to be
victimized as a result of his convictions.. A year ago, Leoncio’s brother
was also killed by assailants suspected to be military agents.
This atrocity against another unarmed and defenseless citizen comes in the
wake of hundreds of unsolved extrajudicial killings of leaders and members
of legal mass organizations whose common denominator is that they are
critical of the current administration. Even more alarming is that Rebelyn
Pitao’s murder comes within days that two peasant organizers in Negros
Oriental and an environmental activist in Marbel, South Cotabato were also
killed allegedly by military elements.
deeply concerned that this new spate of killings signals not just the
continuation but a renewed escalation of covert military operations
against those working for reforms in society through peaceful and legal
We are further alarmed that these killings are meant to fan hatred and
distrust, and thus forestall the resumption of formal talks, between the
Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National
Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
The PEPP reiterates its call on the GRP and the NDFP to immediately return
to the negotiating table for formal talks that address the roots of the
armed conflict, without preconditions and based on their prior agreements.
The murders of Rebelyn Pitao and others underscore the urgency of fully
implementing the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and
International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) to minimize, if not prevent,
human rights violations and thus humanize the armed conflict. The Joint
Monitoring Committee should be convened immediately to act on the
thousands of complaints that have been filed so far, including
extrajudicial killings such as Rebelyn’s murder.
Confidence and goodwill can only be restored by rendering justice to
Rebelyn and the thousands of victims of human rights violations all over
the country. There can be no genuine peace without justice. ##
Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, DD Ms. Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdes
Co-chairperson, PEPP Co-chairperson, PEPP
Most Rev. Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., DD
Head, PEPP Secretariat
March 16, 2009
Download statement in word format
Rebelyn Pitao: Murder Most
PUBLISHED ON March 14, 2009 AT 6:15 AM · ShareThis
By Keith Bacongco
Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project
DAVAO CITY –- Rebelyn was wearing her white school teacher’s uniform when
she left home to go to work. “Ma, I have to go now,” she called out to her
It was 6:30 a.m.,the last time Mrs. Pitao saw her 20-year-old daughter. It
was the last time she would heard her voice.
A Killing Too Far. Rebelyn Pitao, a grade school teacher, was abducted,
tortured, raped, killed and dumped in a watery ditch in Carmen, Davao del
Norte. (Photo by Barry Ohaylan)
Rebelyn usually arrived back home by 6:30 p.m. each school day. But last
week, Wednesday March 4, there was no sign of her. Mrs. Pitao was worried.
An hour and a half later, local police officers and a tricycle driver
knocked on her door and brought news that Rebelyn had been abducted by
armed gunmen on her way home.
“When I heard she had been taken, I knew I would never see her alive
again,” said Mrs. Pitao from her small house in Bago Galera, Toril
District in Davao City. “I knew they would kill her because they were
angry at her father.”
Rebelyn, who would have turned 21 on March 20, was the third child and
daughter of New People’s Army (NPA) leader Leoncio Pitao, also known as
Commander Parago. Her partially naked body was found late the following
day, Thursday March 5, in an irrigation ditch in a village called San
Isidro in Carmen, Davao Del Norte, about 50 kilometers north from here.
She had been bound, gagged, raped and repeatedly stabbed in the chest.
“There were rope markings around her neck and mud all over her body,” her
mother told the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project.
According to the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) of the Davao City
police, Rebelyn had been dead for more than 20 hours before she was found
by a local farmer. It suggests she was killed very soon after being taken.
“Her body bore five wounds inflicted by a thin sharp object such as an ice
pick, which pierced her lungs and liver,” according to Dr. Tomas Dimaandal
who conducted the autopsy at a local funeral home. His report added that
her genitals had suffered cuts “possibly caused by a hard object.” Her
mouth had been taped up.
Mrs. Pitao explained how, with the police officers listening, tricycle
driver Danny Peliciano told her that two unknown men had boarded his
vehicle alongside Rebelyn when she climbed in to ride home. As they neared
Bago Gallera de Oro subdivision a white van, a Toyota Revo, blocked their
path and forced the tricycle to stop.
“Two other men came out of the van and dragged her out of the tricycle.
The driver said Rebelyn was screaming for help but he could not do
anything because the men were armed. The driver said he ran away. Then
they dragged my daughter inside the van,” she said.
Mrs. Pitao believes the other two men on the tricycle were accomplices and
all four men climbed in the van.
The abduction site is about 300 meters from the national highway and is
beside a church with the nearest house 50 meters away.
Dumped. A makeshift cross now stands at the irrigation ditch in Carmen,
Davao del Norte, where Rebelyn’s body was found a day after she was
snatched in Davao City. (Photo by Keith Bacongco/AKP Images)
Peliciano is now missing. A fellow driver who did not wish to be named
said that right after the incident he quit working his usual route and
disappeared. “He is no longer staying at home and we have no idea where he
is now. I think he went into hiding because he is a witness,” said the
Mrs. Pitao believes her daughter may have been attacked inside the van or
taken to a place in nearby Panabo City or Carmen where she was tied up,
tortured and killed soon after and then taken to the ditch after dark.
It is believed she was dumped there between midnight and 1 a.m.
According to a police report obtained by the Philippine Human Rights
Reporting Project from the Carmen police station, Rebelyn’s body was
discovered by rice farmer Raffy Agres whose signed affidavit says he found
her lying in the flooded ditch at around 5 p.m. that Thursday.
“You could hardly see the body even when you were just beside the canal
because of the grass here and the ridge,” said banana plantation worker
Noel Lanoy who was with Agres when Rebelyn was found.
“He screamed out that a body had been dumped and it was a summary
killing,” said Lanoy. “I first thought it was a banana tree trunk.”
Egles Brieta whose house lies about 100 meters away from the scene, says
she didn’t see or hear any vehicle that would have been needed to dump
Rebelyn’s body. “It is so quiet here, yet we didn’t hear anything or
A makeshift bamboo cross now stands in the knee-deep water where Rebelyn
was found. According to Brieta, the bodies of two men were also found
dumped here in 2004.
Outrage and Denials
The abduction, torture and killing of Rebelyn have been met with
widespread disgust and condemnation alongside public pledges to deliver
justice and ensure an open, independent and transparent investigation.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered government agencies to
conduct a thorough investigation, and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has
called the abduction, torture and murder “a deed most foul and the work of
A senior military officer has called it “a crime against humanity,” with
Senator Richard Gordon calling it a “war crime.”
So far, however, Task Force Rebelyn, the group set up to investigate the
crime, claims it has few real leads. Davao City Police Chief Senior
Superintendent Ramon Apolinario initially complained his men had only a
few clues to work with –- the testimonies of the tricycle driver and the
rice farmer who found her –- along with a description of the van allegedly
Rebelyn’s guerilla father claims the vehicle has been spotted parked
outside a “known army safe house in Carmen” –- something the military
Almost from the very moment she was reported missing, the Philippine
Army’s high command has come out vehemently and repeatedly in public to
deny the military was in any way responsible for Rebelyn’s abduction or
her subsequent torture and killing.
But after her own father –- Commander Parago –- publicly named four
military suspects as his daughter’s killers on Sunday, the Army’s position
has slowly changed. While it still denies any responsibility, it now
admits two of the men Parago mentioned are currently their military
intelligence officers who are now “restricted” to the barracks at the 10th
Infantry Division headquarters in Camp Panacan in Davao.
The military is now pledging 100 percent cooperation with the police
inquiry but insists the investigation also has to follow up all other
A few days earlier, Major General Reynaldo B. Mapagu, commander of the
10th ID, denied any involvement of the military in the killing of Rebelyn,
adding that it was “not the policy of the Philippine Army to target
civilians in its campaign against the communist insurgents.”
And in a separate press statement, Lt. Colonel Rolando Bautista, 10th ID
spokesperson, said they understand the ordeal of the family of Rebelyn
“but it would be unfair to blame the incident (on) the military.”
In the hours after she first went missing, military sources suggested
Rebelyn was probably the victim of infighting between members of the NPA.
They added that she may also have been targeted by relatives of people who
were themselves kidnapped and abused by Parago over the years.
But Rebelyn’s father is adamant that no other group could be behind her
killing and claims the army “lashed out at her because they couldn’t get
He does not believe that any government-led investigation will bring
justice for her daughter.
“There were so many investigations for the victims of extrajudicial
killings but none so far have been solved,” he said. “Not just political
killings but also killing of journalists in this country — what happened
to their investigations?”
Ominously, he added: “We (the NPA) will be the ones to investigate and
punish those behind the killing of my daughter.”
Prepared with Sacrifices
Parago, who leads the NPA’s First Pulang Bagani Command which operates in
the fringes of this huge city, said the killing of his daughter would
“strengthen and intensify the efforts to continue the revolution.
“I’m hurt and I’m enraged. Yet even if I cry, there’s nothing I could do
to bring her back. When I learned that she was abducted, I already knew
that they were going to kill her. I’ve been expecting that to happen not
just to my daughter but to my entire family as well.”
Parago’s son Ryan claims he too was attacked by military agents and now
lives with his father as an NPA guerilla. “They tried to stab me in 2005
and the next day I left to come here. Had I not, I would have been dead
now just like Rebelyn.”
Clad in black military uniform, smoking a cigarette and in full battle
gear, the 51-year-old Parago, broke his silence three days after her
daughter was found dead. The Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project and
several journalists met up with him at a location in the outskirts of this
“Since I joined the NPA (in 1978), I’ve been expecting that something will
happen to my family,” he said. “You have to be prepared with all the
sacrifices in all aspects when you join the revolution.”
Parago accused two named
sergeants with the Military Intelligence Group (MIG) and two named
officers serving in the Military Intelligence Battalion (MIB) as those who
he says are directly responsible for his daughter’s death. In a separate
interview with a radio station he also named others –including an Army
Parago said that based on the NPA’s “own intelligence information,” the
four intelligence officers were responsible for the killing of his brother
Danilo in June last year alongside others. “My brother was a provincial
guard of Davao del Norte -he was a government employee, and yet still he
A spokesperson of the Army’s
10th ID has confirmed the names Parago mentioned to the journalists are
members of the military. Two of them he confirmed are being held in the
divisional barracks. The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Eastern
Mindanao Command spokesperson Major Randolph Cabangbang said the military
would fully cooperate with the police investigation.
“We are also affected; the military organization is very concerned about
this and by the perception of civilians. We are not looking into this
incident as soldiers but as fathers too,” stressed Cabangbang.
He added they were also investigating the white Toyota Revo with the plate
number LPG-588 that was reportedly used in abducting Rebelyn. “We verified
the plate number to the Land of Transportation office,” he said – “but
apparently it is not registered or found in the LTO’s database.”
Cabangbang was adamant there “would be no whitewash or cover-up” in the
investigation “even if the suspects are from the military.”
He added: “We will give the PNP (Philippine National Police) a free hand
on this. We also welcome an independent body to conduct its own
investigation to help bring justice for Rebelyn. This incident is already
beyond the fighting between the AFP and the NPA, this is already an attack
He flatly denied the military conducted surveillance on the Pitao family:
“The only subject for our surveillance is Parago - not his entire family”
Parago has long been a wanted man: Former commander of the Philippine
Army’s 10th ID Major General Jogy Leo Fojas last year vowed his troops
would “nail the elusive Parago” before the end of 2008.
Parago has been accused of kidnapping and killing civilians, whom the NPA
suspected as “military intelligence assets.” He admits his guerillas have
killed suspected informers in cold blood. Parago claimed he knew his
“comrades” were responsible for the killing of an informer, but was “not
around when the execution happened.”
”The People’s Court does not kill innocent civilians, we carefully examine
their crimes against the people before we carry out punishments,” he said.
Yet there is no such recognized court under national or international law
and many people see absolutely no difference between extrajudicial
killings allegedly committed by the military and those said to be
committed by the NPA.
In January 7, the NPA are believed to have killed Saturnino Rizaldo, a
suspected member of the military intelligence group. A month later, they
also reportedly murdered a second intelligence agent in Paquibato district
In a mobile phone interview, Simon Santiago, southern Mindanao political
director of the NPA, told the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project
that the NPA executed Rizaldo because of his “crime against humanity.”
“The NPA has standing order against those who have committed serious crime
against the masses,” Santiago stressed.
The other victim he said was “a former NPA member turned military asset.”
Parago said he waited until his daughter was 11 before telling her he was
the known Commander Parago of Southern Mindanao. “When they (my children)
asked me where I was, I often told them I was working abroad.”
Shortly after his release from a prison sentence in 2000 and learning that
he would again go back to join the NPA, Parago recalled Rebelyn saying:
“Pa, I thought we would be together again forever.”
Parago was captured by military agents in 1999 at his home in Toril
district. He was released without preconditions after spending just under
two years in jail.
He also recounted the time when Rebelyn asked for a new pair of jeans and
he couldn’t give her one. “I told her to ask for the old pair of jeans
from her older sister. Rebelyn did it and did not complain. When her
mother was finally able to give her a new pair, Rebelyn was so happy and
grateful. Even for the smallest things, Rebelyn never forgot to say ‘thank
Mrs. Pitao also recalled that since Rebelyn was still small, she really
wanted to be a teacher. “Since she was small, that was her dream -and she
really fulfilled her dream,” she said.
Rebelyn served as a substitute teacher for five months at St. Peter’s
College of Technology and taught Grade 2.
Her mother recalled how happy Rebelyn was when she had her first salary of
PhP 7,800 (USD 162). “She was so happy because that was her first time
that she actually had some real money.”
Mrs. Pitao added said that her daughter’s fellow teachers were surprised
to learn she was the daughter of Commander Parago. “Yet their treatment
towards us never changed. They even sympathized with us because they knew
we were not part of the conflict -we were not combatants.”
Mrs. Pitao claimed the military had harassed their family in the past. In
1999, she insisted, seven military agents came into their house and
briefly held the family hostage to force her husband to surrender.
“They knew my husband was coming down to visit us because it was All
Saints Day,” she recalls. “The children were so scared because we were all
held at gunpoint.”
Parago also claims to remember the alleged incident: “I went there to
visit but was surprised to see the military. I had a grenade with me but
had I tossed it inside my house it would have killed my family as well as
the agents –and so I let myself get captured.”
Mrs. Pitao said the incident was a traumatic experience for the children:
“Trauma has been gone for a long time but now it’s back again because of
what happened to their sister.”
Safety of the family
Davao City Police have been providing 24-hour security during Rebelyn’s
wake and Mrs. Pitao said she was thankful to Mayor Duterte. While having
gone on record as saying he dismissed all allegations that any military or
police officers could be involved in the killing, the mayor has made a
public promise to Parago to find those responsible. The two have even
spoken together on the phone.
For her part, Mrs. Pitao is refusing to comment on her family’s future
security: “We cannot say anything about it now or what are we going to do
now. We have yet to talk about it. But I admit that we are very affected.
I’m worried about my children because two of them are still studying and
they are now worried for their security.”
Rebelyn’s death brings the number of victims of extrajudicial killings in
southern Mindanao since 2001 up to 93 according to Kelly Delgado,
secretary general of the human rights group Karapatan for southern
Authorities contest Karapatan’s figure and insist it is much lower. But it
is not known if either figure includes an anti-mining activist who was
shot dead by two gunmen on Monday March 9 in nearby Koronadal City.
Delgado claims the killing of Rebelyn was intended as a warning: “This is
a message for the family members of not just the NPA but as well those who
are in the progressive organizations that they too can be targets,”
Delgado said. “It is also a message meant to demoralize our ranks.”
“Since the government has set 2010 as the deadline to crush the communist
movement, extrajudicial killings may even get worse because civilians whom
they suspect as communist supporters will become soft targets,” Delgado
“The killings have become systemic and it is impossible to stop them. What
we can do now is to become vigilant and impose security measures among
Retired Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Hermogenes
Esperon and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo have set a 2010 deadline to
end the insurgency.
But last year, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano admitted
that the government might not be able to wipe out the 40-year-old
communist movement by 2010.
The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP),
turns 40 on March 29 –- the day before a public hearing on vigilante
killings is due to open here.
Bishop Delfin Callao of the Philippine Independent Church has said that an
independent body needs to be created to investigate Rebelyn’s killing.
“How can you investigate if you are the accused?” Callao asked reporters
in a press conference last week. The investigation, he insisted, should
not allow any representatives from government agencies, police or military
“This will assure us of complete impartiality and the findings can be the
basis of any criminal charges to be filed against the suspects.”
The investigating body, he said, should be composed of the people from
church and civil society organizations. “Even if the government
authorities snub the results, the most important thing here is we surface
(The author is a journalist based in Davao City and one of the founders of
AKP Images, an independent photo agency.)
Photo by burncool
Photos by Keith Bacongco/AKP
ALLIANCE OF CONCERNED TEACHERS
2/F Teachers’ Center, Mines St. cor. Dipolog St. , Bgy. VASRA, Quezon City
Telefax 453-9116 Mobile 0920-9220817 Email email@example.com
Member, Education International
March 6, 2009
Reference: Antonio L. Tinio (+63920-9220817)
ACT condemns abduction, murder of Davao City teacher
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers today condemned the abduction and
murder of a young private school teacher in Davao City . Rebelyn Pitao,
20, was a substitute teacher at the elementary department of the St.
Peter’s College of Toril .
Rebelyn Pitao is the daughter of rebel leader Leoncio Pitao, also known as
Kumander Parago. Pitao heads the Pulang Bagani Command of the New People’s
Army in Southern Mindanao .
The victim’s mother,
Evangeline Pitao, has accused the military of being behind the killing,
claiming that the act is intended to force her husband to surrender.
According to her, her eldest son and another daughter had previously
experienced being stalked by armed men. The military has denied any
“We condemn the heinous abduction and murder of school teacher Rebelyn
Pitao,” said ACT national chairman Antonio Tinio. “We call on the
authorities to launch a thorough investigation of the crime and bring the
perpetrators to justice. In particular, we call on the police to look into
the possible involvement of the military or paramilitary elements in the
Tinio noted that the extrajudicial killing of activists continues unabated
in Southern Mindanao. Late last year, three organizers of the progressive
party Bayan Muna and an activist of the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid
ng Pilipinas were gunned down in Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte.
“The murder of Rebelyn should be seen in this context.”
Tinio warned that the possible involvement of the military in Pitao’s
death could indicate that the government’s counterinsurgency campaign has
taken a new and even more reprehensible turn. “Rebelyn’s death is
particularly shocking because she was an ordinary law-abiding citizen who
happened to be the daughter of one of the top rebel leaders in Southern
Mindanao . This could be a case of reprisal killing or collective
punishment, which is a war crime.”
According to news reports, Rebelyn was riding in a tricycle on her way
home Wedenesday evening (March 4) when a white van with license plate
LPG-588 blocked their path. Armed men alighted and abducted the young
The next day, her body was found in an irrigation ditch in Carmen town in
the nearby province of Davao del Norte. Clad only in underwear, with hands
bound and mouth covered with tape, the victim’s body bore several stab
“The military are crossing another line if they are indeed targeting the
family and relatives of rebels. This is akin to the reprisal killings
perpetrated by the Nazis against civilians in World War 2 or the Israeli
practice of routinely demolishing the homes of families of Palestinian
suicide bombers. This must stop and those responsible punished,” said
According to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, “No
protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not
personally committed,” and “collective penalties and likewise all measures
of intimidation or terrorism are prohibited.”
Last year, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial,Summary, and
Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston issued a report ascribing the
extrajudicial execution of activists to the government’s counterinsurgency
“Unfortunately, the Arroyo administration is notorious for its inability
or unwillingness to bring human rights violators in the military to
justice,” concluded Tinio. #
Thousands participated in the
funeral march for Rebelyn Pitao on 14 March 2009. The march started at the
Iglesia Filipiniana Independiente church in Torres Street, passed by major
thoroughfares of the city, and finally to Davao Memorial Park in Matina
where Rebelyn's body was cremated. AKP Images / Ruby Thursday More
Evangeline Pitao, with her
children Rio (left) and Redford (right) at the burial rites of her
daughter Rebelyn, who was brutally killed by suspected military agents on
5 March 2009. AKP Images / Ruby Thursday More
Remembering a Daughter
Published: March 14, 2009 |
By GERMELINA A. LACORTE
DAVAO CITY–Evangeline Pitao, wife of Leoncio Pitao popularly known as
Kumander Parago, remembers the morning of Wednesday when Rebelyn, leaving
home for work, had called to her, “Ma, moadto nako! (Ma, I’m going!)”
When she turned, all she could see of her 20 year old daughter was her
back. Her hair falling below her shoulders, Rebelyn was wearing a white
shirt and a pair of brown slacks that day. “I was staring at her back and
somehow, I had the urge to look at her face. But the next time I looked,
she was gone.”
At 6:30 pm that day, unidentified men abducted Rebelyn while she was on a
tricycle on her way home from St Peter’s College in Toril, where she has
been working as a substitute teacher.
Rebelyn Pitao. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)
Barely 24 hours after, her body was found floating in an irrigation canal
near a ricefield in a village of Carmen, a Davao del Norte town about 50
kilometers from the part of Davao city where she was abducted. Police said
she was already dead 20 hours when her body was found.
As cries for justice and a stop to extrajudicial killings carried off
Rebelyn’s body to her final resting place, it struck Evangeline that she
could no longer see her daughter’s face.
She still recalls telling her four children with her to watch out and take
care of themselves as the war between the government and the Communist New
Peoples Army intensifies. “Pag-amping mo pag ayo ha, kay basin manghilabot
na sila,” she recalled telling Rio, 22; Rebelyn, 20; Renante, 18; and
Redford, 16 before the gruesome incident happened.
She was worried that top military men in the region who failed to capture
her husband, the elusive Kumander Parago of the NPA’s Pulang Bagani
Command 1, might get back at her children.
“Dili, Ma oy,” Rebelyn had replied. “Di man ta apil, ana. Sila ra man na
ang nag away. Civilians man ta. (We are not part of that war. It’s only
between them and the government. We are civilians).”
But she was wrong. The moment that Evangeline knew about her daughter’s
abduction, she turned hysterical. “Dili jud siya buhion, sa kasuko nila sa
amahan (I had the feeling that they will not spare her life because they
were so angry at her father),” she said.
Rebelyn’s death represented an ugly episode in the long running
government’s war against the 40 year old Communist NPA. It also raised an
outcry against targeting civilians, including family members of
combatants, in the raging conflict. “It’s brutal and reprehensible, a
violation of the international humanitarian law,” said Bishop Delfin
Callao, convenor of the Exodus for Justice and Peace. Mayor Rodrigo
Duterte said it’s an unwritten law in the conduct of war to spare family
members as targets.
As commander of the Pulang Bagani command of the NPA, Parago has been
behind the most successful NPA raids carried out against military
installations in the region. Among these raids was the Davao Penal Colony
(Dapecol) prison at the break of the New Year in 2008, where over a
hundred armalite rifles were scuttled without a single shot fired.
“We were just too trusting,” says Rebelyn’s mother Evangeline Pitao.
(davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)
But Parago’s family, who lived in Bago Galera in Talomo, had been trying
to live a peaceful life, a world apart from what he has been fighting for.
Up until then, Evangeline recalls, the family was merely trying to eke a
living, trying to survive everyday just like everybody else.
“We were too busy trying to cope with our day to day needs, we’ve never
really given it much of a thought that a thing like this would happen,”
she said, after the gruesome death of her daughter.
Since she was a child, Rebelyn had always wanted to be a teacher. She and
her siblings went through public school, a two-kilometer walk away from
home during their elementary years. She was so happy when she received her
first salary as a substitute teacher at St. Peter’s. “That was the first
time she had thousand peso bills, entirely her own,” Evangeline recalls.
“She set aside P500 for her fare and told me, Ma, this is what I earned.”
She said Rebelyn wanted to help her younger brother Redford, 16, finish
high school; while Rio, her elder sister, agreed to help Renante, who’s
taking up nursing.
“Among the five children, she was very kind; never getting angry when her
younger brothers refused to do the house chores,” she said. “She was the
one who posted the schedules of household chores on the board.”
That’s why she couldn’t understand what kind of people could jab icepicks
into five parts of her body; strangle her and throw her body into the mud.
Until Parago’s capture in 1999, his five children never knew the nature of
their father’s work. “They used to think he worked as a security guard in
a far away place,” Evangeline said. “Then, Rebelyn would say, ‘Why can’t
Papa request for a transfer here, Ma? So that we can be together?’ and I’d
tell her, ‘No, that’s not possible.’”
But after Parago’s capture and then, his escape and eventual return to the
revolution, Evangeline said the military “were always after us,” she said,
“We were put under surveillance.”
She pinned down the Military Intelligence Group (MIG) of the Intelligence
Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) and the Military
Intelligence Battalion of the 10th Infantry Division as perpetrators of
the killing, something that top military officials deny.
Parago, in an interview with reporters, also named Ben Tipait, Aldan
Sulao, Helvin Bitang and Pedring Pedregosa of the Military Intelligence
Group to be behind the killing and vowed to mete out “revolutionary”
justice against the culprits. Police investigators leading the Task Force
Rebelyn had sought out the NPA commanders for the evidence linking the
four MIG men to the killing but Parago said, “You have your own
government, you should know how to do your own investigation.”
Pitao’s eldest son, Ryan, 24, had tried to live a normal life driving a
motorcycle but men identified with the MIG constantly hounded and almost
killed him, forcing him to join his father, where he felt safer. “He never
wanted to be an NPA but the MIG were the one who pushed him,” Evangeline
Rebelyn’s elder sister Rio, 22, also remembered being hounded by strange
men while she was still in college at John Paul. “In school, my teacher
would tell me, ‘Rio, a man is looking for you. He said he’s your uncle and
he kept asking about your schedule and where you live.’ I tell my teacher,
I don’t have an uncle like that.”
Later, working as an intern; and then as a nurse, her schedules was so
erratic, the strange men had trouble following her. “I would receive calls
at the nurse station at the hospital, saying somebody was looking for me
while I was not there,” she said. “At home, people kept asking the
neighbors if all of us were already at home.”
“Nikumpiyansa lang mi (We were just too trusting),” Evangeline said. Now,
she’s joining the calls to spare the families of combatants in the
government’s bloody war against the Communist guerillas and to stop the
extrajudicial killings of activists in the country. (Germelina
Photo by AKP Images / Ruby
Rio Pitao, sister of Rebelyn
Photos by bug2006
The Pain of the Father
3/14/09 05:25 PM | Full Story
By CHERYLL FIEL | Davao Today
Commander Parago, the nom de guerre of Leoncio Pitao, leader of New
People’s Army’s (NPA) First Pulang Bagani Command in Southern Mindanao, is
grieving for the loss of his daughter.
Where journalists found him in Paquibato, a mountainous district at the
outskirts of the city, Parago could have easily come down and visit the
wake of his daughter. Rebelyn Pitao was abducted on March 4, her body
found dumped in an irrigation canal in Carmen town, Davao del Norte a day
But just as how hard it is for the military to climb the mountains of
Paquibato, so it is for Parago to come down.
He is the most wanted rebel leader in Southern Mindanao. Major General Leo
Joggy Fojas, the former area command chief of 10th Infantry (Agila)
Division of the Philippine Army, pronounced last year that they would be
able to capture the rebel leader by the end of 2008.
A new commanding officer has now replaced Fojas. But Parago is still very
much around, leading one NPA tactical offensive after another. Read on.
The Pulang Bagani Command, according to a statement by the Communist Party
of the Philippines (CPP), is responsible in carrying out hundreds of
tactical offensives in the region in the past several years.
In January and February this year, two incidents of ambuscades took place
in Paquibato, reportedly killing at least two military men, wounding 10
others. There were no reported casualties on the NPA.
In one of these instances, a commanding officer almost got killed when
insurgents ambushed the army truck they were riding to Paquibato.
But in November 1999, the military succeeded in capturing Commander
Parago. The rebel leader was visiting his home in Barangay Bago Gallera,
shortly after the NPA unit that he headed released Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) Brigadier General Victor Obillo in Davao.
“It was not really my intention to go home that day,” said Parago. “But it
was All Soul’s Day and the thought of bico (sweet pudding of glutinous
rice) made me think of dropping by the house just briefly,” Parago
But he was wrong. “I did not realize that I was already closely
monitored,” he said. The military came and barged into their home before
Kumander Parago reads the Inquirer story about the abduction of his
daughter. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)
He recalled how the military poked guns at his children’s faces; Ryan, the
eldest, was 14; the youngest, six. He identified Major Randolph
Cabangbang, now the spokesperson of Eastern Mindanao Command, among the
raiding soldiers. “He was still with the 73rd Infantry Battalion at that
time,” Parago said, referring to Cabangbang.
The Eastmincom is one of the two largest military formations in Mindanao
whose jurisdiction include the 4th, 6th and 10th Infantry Divisions, the
Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao, the Philippine Air Force’s 3rd Tactical
Operations Wing, and the 5th Civil Relations Group.
“I could have put up a fight because I was also armed at that time but
they were pointing their guns at my children. They held my children
hostage!” Parago said.
Parago was consequently put to prison in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. He
was released two years later by the Estrada administration as part of the
“confidence-building measure” for the peace talk between the Philippine
Government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to
But still, they kept that family house in Bago Gallera. “I thought, no
matter where I hide my family, the enemy would always find a way to locate
them,” he said. He recalled that when his family came to visit him in Camp
Aguinaldo, they had to write all their names down on a logbook. “So, I
thought, as long as Martial Law will not be declared and human rights laws
are not suspended, perhaps my family could still live in the house in Bago
Gallera. But it turned out, savages do not have rules,” he said.
Parago said even before the gruesome killing of her daughter, he was aware
of the possibility that his enemies will come to vent their ire on his
“If they can easily maul poor villagers on mere suspicion that they are
sympathizers, if they can kill media persons and even lawyers - people who
have the courage to tell the truth and defend the poor - what can restrain
them from doing these barbarities to a family of a rebel like me?” Parago
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, a known friend of Parago, has offered
security and protection to his family but Parago said he could not accept
“The poor have their own government,” he said, referring to the national
democratic revolution led by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)
in the countryside, “This government will now be the one to take care of
Parago admitted that in his life as a rebel, the killing of her daughter
has been, by far, the heaviest to bear.
“They did it to my father,” he said, recalling how in 1978, his father, a
farmer in Agusan del Sur, was mauled by soldiers until he coughed up
blood. “That made me decide to join the NPA,” said Parago, who was 21
years old at the time. “They did it to my mother, to my brother, to the
masses of people suffering in poverty,” he said, “And now, they did it to
my very young daughter. Tell these savages to come up here in the
mountains so that we will face each other in a fair fight,” he said.
A rebel and a father
Parago met his wife, Evangeline, in Laac town in Compostela Valley
province, where reports of military atrocities against civilians were
rampant during the Martial Law years. But incidents of human rights
violations against civilians have continued until today.
Laac was the setting of the first documented massive “hamletting” by the
military in the country in the ‘70s. Until now, one gets to hear of
civilians subjected to abuses by soldiers in the course of military
Rebelyn is the third of Parago’s children with wife Evangeline. His
children bear the initial “R,” because as he said, “They are all conceived
in the revolution.”
His children never knew that he was “Parago” until they were in their
teens. “They were still too young to understand,” he said. “I have decided
to take up arms because of the situation of our nation. If I explained
that to them, would they be able to grasp what nation means?” he
He said he was always ready with alibis. Sometimes, he would tell them
that he is a PICOP worker (a pulp plantation in Surigao province), in
another time, he would tell them he works abroad.
But when he was captured in 1999, Parago said he found no better time to
Ryan, his eldest child, was 15. Rio, the next child was 13, and Rebelyn
was only 11. It was during a visit of his entire family to his detention
cell at the ISAFP Headquarters in Manila (Intelligence Service of the
Armed Forces), that Parago made his disclosure.
“I told them, I am what I do, because if we will not fight, time will
come, when we will still go hungry because of capitalist exploitation,”
Parago’s only regret, is that, his children grew up away from him and he
was not able to enjoy being with them in their growing up years. But he
accepted it as part of the life of the “sacrifices in the revolution.”
Parago’s family led a difficult life. He recalled that time his family
stayed among the Badjaos (tribe of Moro people) at Isla Verde, one of the
seaside slums in the city. “When I learned that the house where my family
lived in Isla Verde got destroyed by strong waves, it broke my heart that
I could not be there to help them put it back together,” he recalled.
It was always Evangeline who tried to make both ends meet for the family.
Evangeline raise hogs in the backyard to help put food on the table and
send the children to school. With the help of friends, the house where his
family lives in Bago Gallera was finished. Rebelyn was going there on the
night that armed men abducted her.
Memories of a daughter
In December Parago saw Rebelyn. “It was my 51st birthday,” he said. “I
asked them to come here. That was the last time.”
Ryan, his son, remembers that day very well because Rebelyn brought some
“mango float,” a sweet dessert made from ripe mango, layered with Graham
crackers, condensed milk and cream.
Ryan said he remembers Rebelyn as a responsible, sweet sister. “She was
very serious in her ambition to become a teacher,” he said. “Even when we
were very young, she would say that she would like to be a teacher one
day. She had good grades in school and indeed, she proved it by finishing
college and being accepted at St. Peter’s (a Catholic School in Toril).”
Parago recalls the time when Rebelyn would ask for some money because she
wanted to try a pair of jeans. “She was almost high school then,” he said.
“We had no money so I told her to just borrow from her sister. She did not
complain and waited until my wife was able to sell some of the hogs she
raised in the backyard. She was very happy when, finally, she had her
first new pair of jeans,” Parago said.
Also, Parago thinks of her as a very grateful girl. “Even for a P20 load
that you give her, she would always text back, ‘Yehey! Thank you pa!’”
“Even if her father is a rebel, there was never a time that I could hear
her taking it against him,” Evangeline, her mother, said. “She even said
that she would rather that his father stay in the mountains because at
least he would be safe there than stay with them and risk his life,”
“She never complained. When we don’t have viand, she helps herself with
soy sauce mixed with rice,” Evangeline said.
Rebelyn finished a Bachelor of Education degree at St. Peter’s College in
Toril last year, where after she graduated, she was accepted as a
substitute teacher at the school’s elementary department.
Evangeline could still recall
the first time that Rebelyn received her salary. “She brought home ice
cream, chiffon cake and loaves of bread. Her younger brothers were very
happy. They would say, ma, at least, we feel how it is to be rich even for
just a day.”
Evangeline also finds Rebelyn very prudent with money. She could trust her
with the budget. “She refuses to buy even a soft drink because as she
would tell her siblings, it is a waste of money and they would rather use
the money to buy some viand,” Evangeline said.
Her mother said Rebelyn spends
her first salary for the family. “The only thing she bought for herself
from her salary was a cabinet. She even set aside some money and gave it
to me to keep as her savings,” Evangeline said. “She would even give some
money from her salary to her lola,” she said.
“She promised to help his younger brothers and the family. But she is now
gone…” Evangeline said.
Parago said among his five
children, it was only Rebelyn who asked if he would already be staying
with them after his release from prison. “But I told her that if I stay in
the house, I would only be serving our family. I explained that there were
other people who needed me,” Parago said.
Parago himself asked for his daughter’s remains to be cremated so that
time will come when they will be joined with his ashes. “If it is not
possible for us to be together here because of our situation, we will
certainly be together in the next life,” Parago said.
Parago’s only wish now is to see to it that justice will be served upon
her daughter’s death.
“I swear that as long as I live, I will see to it that justice will be
delivered. But even if I am already gone, the comrades are there, and the
Communist Party will see to it that justice will be given,” Parago assured
Parago pinned down “Adan
Sulao,” “Helvin Bitang” and “Ben Tipait” of the AFP’s “Military
Intelligence Battalion (MIB)” as the ones behind her daughter’s death.
He said the “MIB” has its headquarters in Panabo town, Davao del Norte. He
also mentioned that these men he named are under a certain “Colonel Caliwa
of the MIG,” and are also the ones “responsible for the murder of
activists in the region.”
“Only those with blood in their hands should be afraid,” he said. “The
NPAs have principles and laws. We are not bandits. The enemies of the
people, the enemies of the revolution must be afraid,” Parago said.
He also vowed to launch more “tactical offensives” against the AFP. “What
we have programmed before will be doubled,” he said.
He said he is not dumb to accept the offer of Major General Raymundo
Ferrer, the new commander of the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command, for a
safe conduct pass for him to attend his child’s wake.
“They are like mad dogs howling at the moon,” Parago said of the
military’s target of ending the insurgency by 2010. “If they want, this
Ferrer (commander of the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command), all these
generals, they should come up here, lead their men in their operations. As
you can see now, the crisis brought by the capitalist system has spread
throughout the world. Here in the country, we, Filipinos, are made to
suffer even more. How can they say they can crush the revolutionary forces
when there are a lot more of us now who hunger for liberation from the
capitalists? One day, the revolution will win and this capitalist system
shall be overturned.” (Cheryll Fiel/davaotoday.com)
New Peoples Army (NPA) leader
Leoncio Pitao, alias Kumander Parago, pins down four members of the
military intelligence group (MIG) behind the killing of her 20-year old
daughter Rebelyn. Photo taken inside Parago’s operational command in the
hinterlands in Davao City. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)
www,davaotoday.com photo by
www,davaotoday.com photo by
www,davaotoday.com photo by
In Pain. The victim’s father,
NPA Commander Parago, speaks: “I am hurt and enraged, but ready for
sacrifices for the revolution.” (Photo by Ruby Thursday More/AKP Images)
Parago: I will not give up
By CHERYLL FIEL
DAVAO CITY—The motorcycle ride to Paquibato where we were set to interview
New People’s Army (NPA) rebel Leoncio Pitao, more known as Kumander
Parago, was not for the half-hearted.
The roads were rough all the way up and the ridges the motorcycle
traversed could be very treacherous. It was a good many hours before the
engine finally halted and we could then inspect if our bones were still
Soon enough, we were on our way trekking. We only stopped when we saw some
items of clothing spread on the grass. Then the guide turned to the narrow
path towards the bushes and called on to someone. “Go! Naa kay bisita.
(Go, you have a visitor).”
We proceeded down the footpath through the bushes. There was practically
nothing around us to tell us it was a camp. There was no physical
structure in sight, only hammocks and backpacks and those young men, arms
by their sides, still managing to press a smile to greet us. They wore
black sweatshirts with hammer and sickle printed on it. They were the
guerrilla fighters of the First Pulang Bagani Command of the NPA, the unit
that Parago heads.
We were then led to what they call “the hall” – a makeshift row of
benches, consisting of branches of shrubs attached to some trees. As soon
as we settled ourselves, Parago came.
He was wearing the same black sweatshirt as the other men except for his
Mao cap and a vest of M203 bullets. We took a deep breath to ask our first
How did he take the news on his daughter’s death?
“I have long understood this as part of the war of the poor versus the
capitalists,” he began. “The revolution is not a banquet.”
For all the years he spent in the communist movement, Parago admitted that
what happened to his daughter was one of the biggest “sacrifices” he was
called to make as a revolutionary.
Sure, there were moments in the past, when it broke his heart thinking
that his children could not almost recognize him because he was out most
of the time.
Twice, too, he conquered death when he was hit by enemy bullets.
“I used to tremble at the sound of gunshots,” he said. “I used to think,
would I ever see my mother again,” he recalled his early days as a young
Kumander Parago. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)
“Each guerrilla has to come to terms with things,” he said. “Life in the
revolution is very hard but if you understand what you are here for, you
would think that there is no sacrifice you cannot bear.”
Parago has been a rebel for 31 years. But not even once did it ever occur
to him to quit. “Mopahulay lang ko kung kadaugan na (I will only lie low
after victory time),” he said.
“If only you try to understand and see for yourself what the masses are
eating; why there are farmers who have no land, workers who are not paid
for their toil, why there are those killed by the military even without
doing anything wrong, it can make you strong,” Parago said.
Parago thinks life is hard for many Filipinos because of the greedy
“Have you ever wondered why there are people who are eating well and there
are many who are not? Why the hectares of plantation lands belong only to
a few? Aren’t those lands supposed to go to those who till them, the
farmers?” he said.
When asked if the death of his daughter has weakened his resolve to
continue, Parago said the military are fools to think that way.
Even with his daughter’s death, Parago has kept his sight of things. “What
happened to my daughter, also happened to the sons and daughters of
countless other poor who are made to suffer in the hands of these brute
troops of capitalists. What they failed to see is that this gives us all
the more reason to fight them,” he said.
Thirty one years ago, he was a son of a poor farmer from Loreto, Agusan
del Sur, whose father was mauled by the military till he coughed up blood.
Now he is one of the most known guerrilla leaders in Southern Mindanao and
the most wanted.
As far as Parago knows, his
daughter was killed because she is his daughter.
He may have accepted the sad reality of his daughter’s fate, but what he
could not accept is that, her killers did not follow the rules of war.
“Even in a war, there are rules that must be followed,” he said. “You only
shoot at legitimate targets. That child of mine was defenceless! She is
only a girl going home from work, teaching at an elementary school to earn
her keeps,” the rebel leader pointed.
“These savage troopers of capitalists had to make my family put up with
their relentless surveillances! Who else has the motive and the capacity
to do that to my family? If they can fool others, they cannot fool me. We
will be seeing each other one day,” he said.
Three years ago, two men bearing knives attempted at the life of his
eldest son, Ryan. They tried to stop the motorcycle he was driving for a
living in Barangay Toril. Ryan is now 24, fighting side by side with his
“The poor boy just wanted to earn a living. But he was not given a
chance,” Parago recalled how he tried to convince his son to come and join
him in the NPA. Ryan became an NPA at 21, the age that he also became one.
“I told him, you see, I am no Diego Salvador (a hero in a radio soap opera
popular in the 1970s) who can come to your rescue any time these savages
“I just wanted to live a normal life,” said Ryan who never planned joining
the NPA.”But they challenged me to fight against them. After what they did
to my sister, there is no turning back.”
Parago’s second child, Rio, 22, also complained of being hounded in school
by burly-looking men. This continued up to the time when she was already
working as a nurse at a city hospital. Parago is prepared that his enemies
might even come for his entire family, but nothing of it will ever make
him surrender his cause.
“Agwantahon ko ning tanan para sa katawhan. Dili nako pwede talikdan ang
katawhan (I will bear these things for the people. I cannot turn my back
from the people,)” he said.
Parago believes that much of society’s woes are due to the control of
resources by the capitalists. This, according to him, was his reason to
fight and join the NPA.
Until this would change, he would not lay down his arms.
“They own the lands. They can even control the prices of commodities. How
can people’s lives get better under this scheme of things?,” he asked.
“But there is a way to break free from this exploitative system. That is
why we must continue fighting.” (Cheryll D. Fiel/davaotoday.com)
Photo by Ruby Thursday
Photo by Ruby Thursday
Photo by Ruby Thursday
13 March 2009
REP. LUZ C. ILAGAN 0920-9213221
Abby Valenzuela (Public Information Officer) 0915-7639619
JUSTICE FOR REBELYN PITAO! - GABRIELA SOLON
“Justice for the slain and raped Rebelyn Pitao should rank as top priority
of the Arroyo government. Mrs. Arroyo should prove her sincerity in
solving the case not only by merely initiating a probe but also by
penalizing the perpetrators of this grave crime,” Gabriela Women's Party
Rep. Luz Ilagan said during a tribute to the 20-year-old teacher at the
Iglesia Filipina Independiente in Davao City.
“Not only does the general public point to the AFP as perpetrators, but
evidence, such as the van used to abduct Rebelyn being seen parked in a
military compound implicate officials and elements of the 10th Infantry
Division of the Philippine Army as the killers and rapists of Rebelyn.”
“As Commander in Chief, Mrs. Arroyo is responsible for the actions of her
subordinates. Her failure to punish the erring soldiers will only
strengthen allegations of her tolerating their acts and even colluding
with the military suspects,” said Ilagan.
To help speed up the process and to push for an independent investigation
on Rebelyn's case, the lawmaker filed House Resolution No. 1050 in the
House of Representatives, “Directing the House Committee on Human Rights
to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the abduction,
rape, torture and summary execution of Rebelyn Pitao allegedly perpetrated
by the 10th Infantry Division of the AFP and recommend measures to
immediately hold the perpetrators accountable for the crimes against
In the resolution, Ilagan said that if Mrs. Arroyo will not prosecute the
army officers and soldiers, she will be defying United Nations Resolution
No. 1325 to which the Philippines is a signatory.
Adopted by the Security Council in 2000, UN Resolution No. 1325 “calls on
all parties to armed conflict to take special measures to protect women
and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of
sexual abuse, and all other forms of violence in situations of armed
It also “emphasizes the responsibility of all States to put an end to
impunity and to prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against
humanity, war crimes including those relating to sexual violence against
women and girls, and in this regard, stresses the need to exclude these
crimes, where feasible from amnesty provisions.”
In a message delivered during the tribute, Ilagan said that Rebelyn's case
is “a clear manifestation of the fascist Arroyo regime's cruelty towards
the innocent, most especially women and children.”
The progressive solon will join the Pitao family and militant groups in a
march demanding justice for Rebelyn and other victims the Arroyo
administration's human rights violations in Mindanao.
Abegail Rose L. Valenzuela
Public Information Officer
Office of Rep. Luzviminda C. Ilagan
Gabriela Women's Party
SW-601 House of Representatives,
13 March 2009
REP. LUZ C. ILAGAN 0920-9213221
Lorie Ann A. Cascaro (Legislative Officer) 0920-9523463
GABRIELA SOLON HITS AFP'S STATEMENT ON REBELYN PITAO'S DEATH
Gabriela Women's Partylist Representative Luzviminda Ilagan criticized
Brig. Gen. Jose A Vizcara, Assistant Division Commander of the 10th
Infantry Division of the AFP for his statements that the military has no
involvement in the summary execution of Rebelyn Pitao and for attributing
the gruesome murder to a personal problem of Rebelyn.
“Brig. General Vizcara's denial is instantaneous, an expected reaction
from the military as an accused party,” Ilagan said. “The burden of proof
that his division is not guilty lies on the AFP. A responsible and sincere
official would have called for a thorough investigation and not cast
aspersion on the private life of the victim.”
In an interview on TV, Brig. General Vizcara insinuated other motives such
as Rebelyn's personal life, particularly with a boyfriend and her father's
accountable deeds against the New People's Army.
This caused the ire of the progressive solon because shifting the blame on
the victim is not only an injustice but also adds insult to injury.
“Blaming the woman for an atrocity committed on her is a typical male
chauvinist thinking. A genuine protector of the people would have delved
into the merits of the case by calling for an honest-to-goodness
investigation and by surrendering the accused parties to the authorities.
Maligning the victim, who cannot defend herself, is unacceptable, unfair
and unjust.” Ilagan said.
Abegail Rose L. Valenzuela
Public Information Officer
Office of Rep. Luzviminda C. Ilagan
Gabriela Women's Party
SW-601 House of Representatives,
14 March 2009
Reference: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0917-322-1203
As Rebelyn Pitao is laid to rest,
"Let our grief turn to indignation,
our mourning to call for justice" - Gabriela
Clad in red, members of the militant women's group GABRIELA joined other
cause-oriented group in a protest action in front of Camp Aguinaldo in
Quezon City as Rebelyn Pitao is being laid to rest in Davao City.
"Let our grief turn to indignation. Transform our mourning to loud calls
for justice for Rebelyn and all other defenseless Filipinos tortured and
killed by the Arroyo regime," said Emmi de Jesus, secretary general of
"There is no denying the hand of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in
the sexual violation and killing of Rebelyn. The heartless torturers and
killers have been named. The people expect that the wheel of justice have
started rolling and in not time, the perpetrators be made to pay for their
dastardly crime," added De Jesus.
According to the women's group, the AFP's defense of its officers and men
implicated in the killing of Rebelyn are not unexpected. "They are
defending not only those directly responsible for Rebelyn's death but also
the whole AFP apparatus that enables such merciless killing. The military
operates within a command structure within one counter-insurgency program.
Operations are carried out not without orders from the AFP's top ranks."
De Jesus said that Rebelyn is only one of the numerous women killed under
the current counter-insurgency program of the government. De Jesus cited
latest data from Karapatan Alliance of Human Rights stating that from
January 2001 to September 30, 2008, there were already 102 women and 68
children victims of extra-judicial killing and 30 women and 4 children
victims of enforced disappearance.
"As women, we saw in Rebelyn's case the countless number of daughters and
sisters raped and killed by a ruthlessness regime. As Rebelyn is laid to
rest, women will be restless in pursuing justice for her and other
Filipino victims of state-sponsored killing," conclude De Jesus.###
Photo by bug2006
Duterte at the Davao Memorial
Park before the burial rites of Rebelyn Pitao, daughter of NPA rebel
leader Leoncio Pitao a.k.a. Commander Parago. Duterte considers Rebelyn's
abduction, torture and murder “a deed most foul and the work of a
monster.” AKP Images / Ruby Thursday More
Davao City Mayor Rudy Duterte
and Bayan Muna officer Joel Virador
(Photo by Keith Bacongco/AKP
Katipunan ng mga Kamahan ng
Migranteng Manggagawa sa Korea
The Unity of Filipino Migrant Workers Associations in Korea
STATEMENT OF INDIGNATION
ON THE SUMMARY EXECUTION OF REBELYN PITAO
KASAMMAKO or the Unity of Filipino Migrant Workers Associations in Korea
is informed of the events surrounding the abduction and murder of Rebelyn
M. Pitao, a young substitute teacher and the daughter of rebel commander
Leoncio Pitao, also known as Commander Parago. KARAPATAN supplied us the
details of the abduction and senseless torture and murder of Rebelyn Pitao
At around 6:30 in the evening of 4 March 2009, Rebelyn M. Pitao was at the
tricycle terminal in Bago Aplaya getting a ride home. She was the first to
board the tricycle driven by Danny E. Pelicano, occupying one of the seats
at the back of the tricycle. Two men joined her, one sat in front while
the other one joined her at the back, facing her. The men told the driver
to go ahead; they would just pay for the fare of the vacant seat. But
before he could drive away, a woman arrived and joined them, sitting
beside the man in the front seat.
At about 300 meters away from the terminal, in the dark portion of the
crossing of Bago Gallera de Oro Subdivision, a white van was parked at the
left side of the road and two men quickly blocked the tricycle. They
pulled Danny off the seat and ordered him to drop to the ground. One of
the men told him not to run or he will be shot. But Danny ran back to the
terminal as fast as he could to call for help. The other woman passenger
ran as well, leaving Rebelyn behind, held by the men and forcefully pushed
inside the waiting van. The two men who were in the tricycle joined the
men in the van. They fled in an unknown direction. Danny said that the men
may be from out of town because they did not look familiar. He reported
the incident to the police. At around 6:30 in evening the following day,
Rebelyn’s body was found in the river in Purok 5, Brgy. San Isidro,
Carmen, Davao del Norte. The perpetrators of the abduction and murder of
Rebelyn Pitao are believed to be government military operatives.
Rebelyn M. Pitao may just be another victim of the climate of impunity
under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime; but KASAMMAKO considers her as
another milestone in the Filipino struggle against poverty, oppression,
injustice and the rotten political domination of ruling class. KASAMMAKO
fervidly condemns the abduction, torture and subsequent murder of Rebelyn
This gross violation of life of Rebelyn M. Pitao outweighs even the
grandest articulation of the rights of civilians and non-combatants in the
International Humanitarian Law and the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, for these are preventive measures from harming, inflicting pain,
violating and decimating a human person. This brutal murder does not only
inflict anxiety on those who heard the news and fear for the lives of
their immediate family members, but erodes people’s sense security in
their homes and communities. We vehemently condemn the Arroyo regime for
pursuing a war against the people it oath to protect and serve. The image
of an insane mother killing her own children describes the Filipino nation
under the present government.
KASAMMAKO calls for the following actions from the Philippine government:
1. Formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team
composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church that will
look into the abduction, rape and summary execution of Rebelyn M. Pitao
and that Danny E. Pelicano, the tricycle driver and other witnesses will
be put under the witness protection program.
2. Arrest, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of the crimes of summary
3. Immediate and proper indemnification of the victims; and
4. Stop extra-judicial killings in the Philippines.
Mr. Pol Par
March 11, 2009
12 March 2009
Reference: Jonna Baldres, Secretary General, Anakbayan New York/New
ANAKBAYAN NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY STATEMENT ON THE ABDUCTION AND KILLING OF
a person who lacks the courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant
This is how Anakbayan New York/New Jersey tags the Arroyo government for
taking upon Rebelyn Pitao its desperation in failure to catch her father,
Leoncio Pitao, also known as New People's Army (NPA) Commander Parago.
Bringing out one's anger on somebody else and not directly confronting the
person one has differences with can only be considered as nothing else but
an act of cowardice.
And we, the Filipino youth of New York/New Jersey, strongly condemn the
barbaric acts carried out on Rebelyn, a 20-year-old gradeschool teacher in
St. Peter College in Toril, Davao City, who was abducted by armed men and
taken away in a white van while riding in a tricycle on her way home from
school on March 4, 2009. She was later found tortured, raped and killed
with five stabs of ice pick the next day floating on a river.
For years, this distinct form of abduction and torture has been the
trademark of the suspected military elements of the Philippine government
who perform these executions on anyone speaking against the government's
crimes against the Filipino people, or on anyone believed to be members or
sympathizers of the NPA or of the Communist Party of the Philippines
In this particular case, however, Rebelyn was not even a member of any
political organizations and yet the government crossed the line once more
and took on her only because she is the daughter of a person they have
political differences with and whom they have failed many times to get
ahold of. To echo Rebelyn's mother, Evangeline, "If they are angry because
they can’t get my husband, they should go up the mountains and look for my
husband there.” Rebelyn's mother did not doubt, even for a bit, that it
was the military who killed her daughter, referring to these elements as
"“evil, vicious men of the military intelligence group.”
This savage attack perpetrated upon Rebelyn is definitely a complete and
total disregard of the existing Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for
Human Rights and Intenational Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) between the
Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of
the Philippines (NDFP).
Part III of the agreement entitled "Respect for Human Rights", Article 2
states that the "agreement seeks to confront, remedy and prevent the most
serious human rights violations in terms of civil and political rights, as
well as to uphold, protect and promote the full scope of human rights and
fundamental freedoms, including: (number 4) The right to life, especially
against summary executions (salvagings), involuntary disappearances,
massacres and indiscriminate bombardments of communities, and the right
not to be subjected to campaigns of incitement to violence against one's
This agreement has been violated by the GRP many times as this agreement's
scope includes "to guarantee the protection of human rights to all
Filipinos under all circumstances, especially the workers, peasants and
the poor people" and "to affirm and apply the principles of international
humanitarian law in order to protect the civilian population and
individual civilians, as well as persons who do not take direct part in
armed hostilities." (Part II, "Bases, Scope and Applicability", Article 2)
Clearly, the GRP has not been abiding by any of these.
From the time President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took office in 2001, more
than a thousand cases of political killings and hundreds more cases of
enforced disappearances had been documented, done in the same systematic
way as that in Rebelyn's case. Even Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur,
concluded from his research and interviews of human rights victims in the
Philippines that it is, indeed, the military and the police -- which is
under the chain-of-command of the President -- perpetrating these series
of state-sponsored terrorism. WIth what the government has done to
Rebelyn, it only shows how inhuman the people in power can be.
In a society where guns, torture and violence are used by the state to
silence its people who only speak the truth, can there still really be any
chance for peace? How many more Karen Empenos, Sherlyn Cadapans, Chris
Hugos, Ambo Gurans and Rebelyn Pitaos will there be? If this method by the
Arroyo government continues -- with the sole purpose of protecting its
personal economic and political interests -- will the revolutionary
willpower of the NPA and the CPP be crushed? Or will it encourage more
Filipinos to take up arms, stand up against these atrocities, protect
themselves and their families and fight against these vicious state
apparatuses in the hills, in the countryside and in the cities?###
JUSTICE FOR REBELYN PITAO!
JUSTICE FOR FAMILIES AND ALL VICTIMS
OF POLITICAL KILLINGS & ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES!
DOWN WITH THE US-ARROYO FASCIST REGIME!
MARCH 14, 2009
KARAPATAN human rights
workers all over the country join the Pitao family and the Filipino people
in mourning the brutal death of Rebelyn Pitao.
Words are not enough to express our sympathies for Rebelyn’s family and
our outrage over the violence that state security forces have inflicted
Rebelyn is a daughter of a revolutionary but she is no combatant. In a
civilized world, she deserved and should have been afforded protection,
especially in a place where there is armed conflict. But the Arroyo
government is launching a dirty war that does not distinguish between
civilians and combatants, targeting activists and the families of
Apart from being her father’s daughter, Rebelyn is Rebelyn. The
twenty-year old lass could be anyone among us - a woman, a teacher, a
friend, a citizen and most of all a human being whose rights should be
respected. Like anyone whose rights have been violated, she deserves to be
We call on the Commission on Human Rights to conduct an impartial
investigation. We challenge officials of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines to show the suspects before a public hearing.
The killing of Rebelyn and 11 of our kababayans in the first 72 days of
this year 2009 indicates that the Arroyo regime will not stop its
murderous rampage. Indeed, as GMA and her minions continuously declare to
end the insurgency by 2010, these declarations are carried out on the
ground by state security forces implementing the Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL)
engendering more killings, disappearances and other human rights
violations. This devious counter-insurgency program must be rescinded and
its masterminds and implementers must stand trial and punished for their
crimes against humanity.
We are enraged as much as we are saddened by the continuing violations and
the climate of impunity all over the land.
Truly, words are not enough. We must link arms with the victims of human
rights violations, remain vigilant and defend our rights.
Let show our courage as we wipe our tears. Let us resolve to end the
fascist Arroyo regime.
Justice for Rebelyn Pitao!
Justice for all victims of human rights violations!
Karapatan ng mamamayan, ipaglaban!
Photo by bug2006
March 14, 2009
A STATEMENT CONDEMNING THE MURDER OF REBELYN PITAO,
AN EDUCATOR OF THE YOUTH, THE MILITARY'S TROPHY IN GMA'S WAR
Instead of winning the hearts and minds of the people, the Philippine
Armed Forces along with its Commander- in-Chief President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo has come a long way in sowing terror, hatred and mistrust
among the people.
The murder of Rebelyn Pitao, a daughter to a New Peoples Army (NPA)
commander, and a teacher to many school children who chose the classroom
as a battlefield to effect change in our cancer-stricken society,
manifests to the highest level the state's moral and political bankruptcy
that roots from a militarist, undemocratic and anti-people framework of
Her bloody death showed the people that the military does not discriminate
between the armed and the unarmed, that it has neither the heart nor
respect for a life offered to serve a country by being an educator of the
As we grieve and rage over the brutality that she has suffered,
undoubtedly, in the hands of the state's agents, we cannot help but
recount the hundreds or thousands of innocent and brave lives snuffed out
of those who are discriminated for their struggles for truth, and genuine
peace and justice.
Be they members or leaders of political organizations, church workers,
human rights and environmental defenders, or be they mere relatives or
friends of alleged rebels who were used as pawns in the military's unjust
war against the Filipino people, they, until now are deprived of justice.
From their graves, from their works of freedom and justice, from the trail
of blood that their unjust deaths left behind, they are an inspiration to
the growing people's movement that resists tyranny and fascism that is
systematically and institutionally perpetrated by the state's armed forces
at the behest of President Macapagal Arroyo whose shameless cling to power
is the highest form mockery to human rights and democracy, not only in
this nation but in the world.
May Rebelyn's murder and the rage that it has ignited in our hearts keep
aflame our own zeal and passion for our nationalist and democratic
struggles for the Filipino people.
Justice for Rebelyn! Prosecute the hatchet men in the ranks of the
Philippine military and their architects in the Arroyo regime!
Justice for all victims of extrajudicial killings!
Long live true defenders of human rights and justice!
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Southern Mindanao Region
Photo by bug2006
Photos by bug2006
March 15, 2009
ROY MORILLA, KMP Public Information Officer (63-905-421-7305)
Pitao murder highlights grave abuses in Mindanao
The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of
the Philippines) and its regional chapter KMP – Southern Mindanao Region
condemns to the highest degree the brutal killing and rape of Rebelyn
Pitao, the schoolteacher-daughter of New People's Army (NPA) cadre Leoncio
Pitao aka Ka Parago. The killing of Pitao dismissed the claim of the
Arroyo government, particularly Task Force Usig that extra-judicial
killings (EJK) has dwindled down and highlighted anew the systematic EJK
in Mindanao. Since November, 7 peasant leaders and members of KMP has been
murdered. They are commonly fighting for genuine land reform and against
mining operations in the Mindanao region. The peasant groups firmly
believe that the Philippine Army 10th Infantry Division and Military
Intelligence Group (MIG) is responsible for her death and it is part of
the dreadful implementation of Arroyo's counter-insurgency program Oplan
Bantay Laya 2 (OBL2).
"It is really a wicked act of the military and the Arroyo government,
killing and raping the daughter of an NPA leader they could not find and
capture. They are turning to hitting on innocent civilians to retaliate
for their grave losses in the battlefield, the NPA has inflicted major
damages to the military in Southern Mindanao Region. We totally condemn
this atrocity of the 10th Infantry Division and Arroyo government," opened
Antonio Flores, KMP National Auditor and Chair of KMP – SMR, in a press
statement. He is also a convenor of Tanggol Magsasaka, a peasant support
formation focusing on peasant rights abuses.
KMP – SMR has condemned the killing of Rebelyn, Tony Salubre, KMP-SMR
Secretary-General stated "The murder of Rebelyn Pitao, a daughter to a New
Peoples Army (NPA) commander, and a teacher to many school children who
chose the classroom as a battlefield to effect change in our
cancer-stricken society, manifests to the highest level the state's moral
and political bankruptcy that roots from a militarist, undemocratic and
anti-people framework of governance."
"OBL2 is a man-made disaster, it wreaking havoc to people's lives and a
historical dark age for human rights. It lip-served of winning the hearts
and minds of the people, instead it is trying to win by killing the
people," said Flores.
In addition, KMP – SMR stated that the military does not discriminate
between the armed and unarmed, of no respect to life and assaults on an
educator of the Filipino youth.
"This is really an anti-people act, we are already lacking of school
teachers and they have killed one," added Flores.
Rebelyn Pitao, 20 years old, was abducted on March 4 on her way home from
St. Peter's College in Toril District. She was found the next day,
floating dead on an irrigation creek in Carman Town, Davao del Norte. Her
body showed stab wounds, signs of torture and lacerations on the genitals.
"Her case is really a sacrifice, as it attracted the attention of the
public to the human rights state of Mindanao. Since November, 4 of the 7
KMP leaders and members come from Mindanao, namely Isabelino Celing, Danny
Qualbar, Rolando Antolihao, Eliezer "Boy" Billanes, it averaged 1 peasant
victim per month," said Flores.
KMP believes that the Arroyo government, particularly the military is
losing to the New People's Army, which led to the assault of leaders and
members of legal-democratic organizations. Oplan Bantay Laya 2 deceives as
"winning the hearts and minds of the people" is concretely composed of
extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and "arrest and
detention." Since Arroyo took power in 2001, 528 or more than half of the
EJK victims were peasants, 109 were KMP leaders.
"We are calling for justice for Rebelyn's death, the 10th Infantry
Division should be penalized, the Arroyo government should be held
responsible, not just for Rebelyn's death but for all the victims of EJK
and other human rights violations under her term. We will never forget
this demonic act of Arroyo and atrocity," declared Flores.#
At the KMP Website, Pitao murder highlights grave abuses in Mindanao
For more KMP statements, please visit our website,
HUSTISYA PARA KAY REBELYN
Isa na namang sibilyan ang pinatay ng rehimeng US-Arroyo.
Marso 4, lunsod ng Davao,
takipsilim, isang puting van ang humarang sa traysikel na sinasakyan ni
Rebelyn Pitao – 20 taong gulang, guro sa isang lokal na paaralan, anak ni
Kumander Parago ng Pulang Bagani Command ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan sa
Mindanaw – at siya’y dinukot ng mga armadong lalaki. Kinabukasan,
natagpuan ang kaniyang halos hubad na katawan sa isang maliit na irigasyon
sa Davao del Norte, may limang saksak ng ice pick, may mga marka ng
pagkakatali at busal sa bibig, may hiwa ang ari at iba pang tatak ng
Ayon sa Comprehensive
Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law
(CARHRIL) – isang kasunduan ukol sa pagtataguyod ng karapatang pantao ng
mga sibilyan at mandirigma sa gitna ng armadong tunggalian na nilagdaan ng
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) at Gobyerno ng
Republika ng Pilipinas (GRP) noong 1998, ang mga sumusunod “violence to
life and person, particularly killing or causing injury, being subjected
to physical or mental torture, mutilation, corporal punishment, cruel or
degrading treatment and all acts of violence and reprisals, including
hostage-taking, and acts against the physical well-being, dignity,
political convictions and other human right;” (Article 3, Part IV, Respect
for International Humanitarian Law, CARHRIL), ay mahigpit na ipinagbabawal
na ipataw o gawin sa mga sibilyan, mga hindi armado o kahit na sino mang
walang aktibong bahagi sa armadong tunggalian. Ngunit, sa kasaysayan ng
pagsupil sa inhurhesiya ng bawat papet-pasitang rehimen sa Pilipinas,
naging eksperto na ito sa pagwawalang bahala at paulit-ulit na paglabag sa
karapatang pantao ng mga mamamayan. Ginagawang uod na pampain ang mga
mahal sa buhay ng mga pulang mandirigma upang sila ay matakot at tuluyang
sumuko. Ginagawang lambat ng ngalit at desperasyon ang masa upang pahinain
o limasin ang tubig na nilalanguyan ng mga rebolusyonaryong puwersa. Sa
pagkukumahog nitong palisin ang 40 taong armadong pakikibaka ng Partido
Komunista ng Pilipinas-Bagong Hukbong Bayan (PKP-BHB) sa 2010, ay
kabi-kabila ang mga pagpatay, pagkawala, at pandarahas sa mga aktibista,
mamamahayag, pinaghihinalaang mga PKP-BHB at kanilang mga kamag-anakan. Sa
kasalukuyan ay umabot na sa mahigit isang libong kaso ng pulitikal na
pamamaslang, 200 kaso ng sapilitang pagkawala, at libo-libong insidente ng
iba’t ibang porma ng pandarahas ang naitala simula 2001. Sa
pagsasakatuparan muli ng Visiting
Forces Agreement at Balikatan Exercises, itinatayang tataas pa ang bilang
nga mga paglabag sa karapatang pantao, lalo ng mga sibilyan sa kanayunan.
Noong isang araw, inilibing na
ang mga labi ni Rebelyn, ngunit hindi nailibing kasama nito ang iginuhit
ng kaniyang pagkakapaslang. Hindi ang karumal-dumal na pagkamatay, ang
limang saksak ng ice pick at mga sugat sa kaniyang ari, na magpapabigat sa
pagdadalawang isip ng mga mamamayang nagtatanong at nagugulumihanan. Hindi
ang kaniyang ibayong dedikasyon sa sinumpaang tungkuling linangin ang
isipan ng kabataan, isang malaking kawalan ang kaniyang pagkamatay para sa
isang bayan na salat na salat sa mga guro ng bayan, ngunit isa rin itong
hamon sa mga kapwa guro upang patuloy na pag-aralan at magmulat ukol sa
kalagayan ng lipunan. Hindi ang marka ng busal sa bibig, o ng
pagkakagapos, na aayon sa pagpapaigting sa tunggalian ng mga uri at
patuloy na magbubuklod sa mamamayang naghihirap na tanggalin ang busal sa
bibig at kalasin ang gapos ng pagka-alipin. Hindi ang tatag ng dibdib ng
kaniyang mga naiwan – ng Inang nangungulila ngunit matatag sa pagharap sa
dalamhating bunga ng digmaan, ang Amang di-natitinag sa kaniyang
pakikibaka, ang kapatid na naging biktima rin ng pandarahas at tangkang
pagpatay ng militar ngunit sumama sa kaniyang ama sa pakikibaka – na
magsisilbing alaala sa mga aktibista at kumikilos para sa tunay na
pagbabago, na ang mga banta ay hindi sinasagot ng takot kung hindi ng
ibayong tapang sa patuloy na pagkilos para sa matuwid. At higit sa lahat,
hindi naibaon sa hukay ang matatamis na ngiti ng isang anak, na
magpapatuloy ng alab sa dibdib ng isang rebolusyunaryo – Ina, Ama, o
kapatid, man – at ng kaniyang mga kasama, na naghahawan ng daan tungo sa
tunay na kalayaan.
ITAGUYOD ANG KARAPATANG PANTAO!
ITIGIL ANG PAMAMASLANG PULITIKAL AT SAPILITANG PAGKAWALA!
HUSTISYA PARA KAYA REBELYN PITAO!
Congress of Teachers Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND-UP)
Marso 17, 2009
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