MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - More than 3 months since he succumbed to a heart attack, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) finally admitted that its spokesman, Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, is dead.
In a statement, CPP said Rosal died last June 22 because of a heart attack. He was 64.
“The public announcement was delayed to allow the concerned organs of the CPP to inform Ka Roger's daughters of their father's demise. Intense military operations prevented information from reaching his daughters with dispatch. Ka Roger's siblings have also been informed of his passing.”
“The entire membership of the CPP, Red fighters of the New People's Army (NPA), revolutionary forces and the Filipino masses mourn Ka Roger's death,” the statement read.
All units of the CPP’s armed group, the New People’s Army, will fall in formation to pay tribute to Ka Roger on October 15 at exactly 12 noon.
“They will carry out a gun salute in his memory. All units of the CPP and revolutionary mass organizations are enjoined to launch tribute meetings to remember Ka Roger and his contributions to the historic revolutionary struggles of the Filipino people,” CPP said.
The news of Rosal’s death has been circulating since last year because of his absence in peace talks.
Rosal headed the NPA's Melito Glor Command in the Southern Tagalog region and was later designated as spokesman of the CPP.
In a “Red salute” posted on the CPP’s website, the group said Rosal “symbolized the struggle of ordinary folk--the peasant masses, workers, the urban poor, employees and small professionals--who had lofty aspirations of liberation from the ruling system that oppressed and exploited them.”
The commemorative piece said Rosal has known the concept of poverty since childhood. Born on April 19, 1947 to an impoverished family in Ibaan, Batangas, Rosal had to work as a servant at their landlord's household.
Poverty forced him to stop going to school. Later, he peddled mosquito nets and other goods to earn some money.
He finally entered college at the Golden Gate Colleges in Batangas City in 1971 at the age of 24.
That was already a tumultuous year for activists and human rights leaders. Everywhere he went, Rosal encountered rallies and mobilizations.
Ka Roger then became a member of the Kabataang Gabay ng Bayan and later, the Kabataang Makabayan.
Upon the declaration of martial rule in 1972, Ka Roger became part of a team that organized workers at the Batangas Sugar Central in Balayan, Batangas.
A year after, he was captured and later transferred to Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Calamba, Laguna.
The great escape
Along with other comrades, Rosal made “The Great Escape” and took to the mountains.
“Ka Roger paid no mind to fatigue and the dangers attendant to the fulfillment of his duties. He would spend late nights writing, studying and presiding over meetings. He would rise at dawn and immediately resume working,” the salute read.
In 1995, he contracted a typhoid fever but nonetheless continued with his work.
He suffered his first stroke in 1997, but went on to persevere despite his “disabilities.”
Even then, “Ka Roger spurned the offers of medical assistance from the AFP. He was aware that these were traps and saw the hypocrisy behind them, as the military never withdrew the bounty on his head and relentlessly pursued operations for his capture,” CPP said.