Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal: The Undying Voice of the People and Revolution

Executive Committee
Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee
October 9, 2011

Fierce-browed, I coolly defy a thousand pointing fingers,
Head-bowed, like a willing ox I serve the children. – Lu Hsun

His radiant smile. His comradely stance. The Party’s firm and clear stand on people’s issues and concerns heralded by his voice that resonated across the country’s hundred islands. It was his – Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal’s undying voice that fused the voices of the oppressed and exploited Filipino people into one great revolutionary force.

Gregorio Rosal, widely known as “Ka Roger,” was born to Pablo Rosal and Crispina Crusat in Ibaan, Batangas on April 19, 1947. Born to a peasant family, his father and mother both as farmworkers in a small sugarcane plantation in Batangas, Ka Roger witnessed and experienced early on the sufferings and struggles of the masses. He left school at an early age, became a landowner’s help and a huckster selling mosquito nets and other small items to help support his family economically.

He reached secondary education only at the age of 24 at Golden Gate Colleges in Batangas City. He became a member of Kabataang Gabay ng Bayan (KGB), a group consists of Batangueño activists. He later became a member of Kabataang Makabayan (KM), a revolutionary group of Filipino youth and students. During the Martial Law years, Ka Roger was among the organizers of farmworkers at Batangas Sugar Central in Balayan, Batangas. In 1973, he was arrested, jailed in Camp Vicente Lim, Canlubang, Laguna and later escaped from prison along with other political prisoners in a feat dubbed among activist circles then as the “Great Escape of the Papillion Squad” (coined after the saga of Papillion, a French escapist) and which has drawn inspiration for the prison struggle among political activists jailed by Marcos regime. After the escape, he decided to join the armed struggle being waged in the countryside.

His contributions in building, consolidating and expanding revolutionary bases in the Southern Tagalog Region and Quezon-Bicol Zone (QBZ) during the 70’s and the 80’s were commendable. He was part of the pioneering efforts in earlier attempts of establishing guerilla zones in Batangas, Laguna and Mindoro. During the latter part of the 70’s he played a key role in successfully establishing guerilla zones in Camarines Norte under the Quezon-Bicol Zone Party Committee. Between 1979-80, he was sent by the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee to consult with comrades tasked with guerilla zone building in the Sierra Madre of Laguna. Between 1982-83, Ka Roger had a brief stint in urban revolutionary work and headed the central command of the region’s huge mobilization during the Papal visit in 1982 in protest against Marcos dictatorship. In 1983, he headed the effort of establishing a network of guerilla zones stretching from Eastern Batangas to Central Quezon known as the Himalayas comprising three (3) guerilla zones—codenamed Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Because of his great contributions, Ka Roger was elected to the Executive Committee of the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee (STRPC) during the 2nd Regional Party Conference held in 1985. After the Edsa Revolution of 1986, he served in the secretariat of the STRPC.

Ka Roger’s potential as a Party propagandist was honed when he headed and oversaw the pioneering work in setting Radio Pakikibaka in 1990, the first guerilla radio broadcast in Southern Tagalog. For several years, Radio Pakikibaka survived the military’s numerous scheme of suppressing the airing of the voice of the revolution in Southern Tagalog by operating clandestinely and constantly moving to evade enemy detection and triangulation. Soon Radio Pakikibaka became popular among the revolutionary masses both in the region’s countryside and cities, including the outskirts of the National Capital Region.

Ka Roger exhibited diligence and dedication as Spokesperson of the National Democratic Front in the Southern Tagalog Region in 1987. From 1988 to 1992, he became the Spokesperson of Melito Glor Command. In 1994, he was appointed as the Spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines while serving as the concurrent Party secretary of the Banahaw-Sierra Madre Guerilla Front Party Committee. Ka Roger was a paragon of an eminent people’s soldier: a fearless warrior, a resilient organizer and a compelling propagandist rolled up into one. Ka Roger’s humor and appositeness to the feelings and concerns of the masses were his best strong point during mass work. Furthermore, his sharp analysis on the burning issues of the day and use of language in a way understandable to ordinary people—the common readers and listeners—were among the qualities that the masses admired about Ka Roger.

He was particularly an inspiration to the Filipino youth. These days when the youth can easily get misinformed through easy access and exposure to different mediums of mass communication, when truths and facts are obscured and entangled in a string of lies propagated by the ruling classes, Ka Roger inspired the youth to study, investigate and integrate with the masses to come up with objective facts and knowledge. Facts and knowledge about the Philippine society that serve as basis of unity within the youth sector and for partaking actions with the peasantry, the working class and other basic sectors for the betterment of society.

If there is one thing mass media remembers about Ka Roger, it is his integrity. Ka Roger never issued fabricated statements, twisted facts or distorted data. He never retracted his pronouncements. In due course, the people and mass media are able to prove that his words are true and verifiable.

Whence melodramatic and sensational newscasts are opted by the mainstream media, Ka Roger combated it with pure and earnest enthusiasm to apprise the public about the true to life dramas of the masses – events that are by far important and noteworthy such as protest actions staged by the peasants and workers, victorious tactical offensives of the New People’s Army (NPA) or the release of prisoners of war (POWs) in different parts of the country in compliance with the rulings of the people’s revolutionary court. He also never misses to apprise the public about the fake and deceptive dramas being portrayed by the US imperialist and its local cohorts such as repressive and anti-people laws, wicked maneuvers to pander to the whims and caprices of the US and propaganda that seek to discredit and demonize the Party and revolutionary movement.

Ka Roger’s voice does not strike deep at the hearts of the masses alone. His voice – straightforward, incessant, sharp – strikes deepest the US imperialist and the ruling classes to the core; the very reason the enemy instigated dangers by staging many a plan to capture, capitulate and kill Ka Roger. During the height of Corazon Aquino’s ‘total war’ policy, to lure Ka Roger to surrender, his eldest daughter Andrea, then a three-year old child, was kidnapped by the mercenary armed forces of the Philippines (AFP) upon the order of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) chief Gen. Galido. But Ka Roger stood firm on his principles, immediately brought the incident into the open and showed to the world that the people who should surrender instead, are the very people that do criminal acts such as kidnapping innocent children like Andrea; people who are oppressors; people who call themselves decent and right while wallowing in wealth at the expense of people’s sweat and blood.

Yet, it was his discipline and dedication to every task given him that most endeared Ka Roger to every person who met him. For Ka Roger, revolutionary works are always at the fore. Even after suffering from his first major heart attack on 1997, Ka Roger literally continued climbing high and steep mountains, crossed the deepest rivers and rough seas and faced countless enemy assault just to bring “the good news of the revolution” to the people. It was not that Ka Roger was impervious of his own health. It was just that his genuine love for and ardent passion to serve the people surpasses any of his personal agenda. Ka Roger did not mind the heat of the sun or the heavy rains while looking for a better signal to honor every media interview. He did not mind spending many days and nights in the deeps where he could safely talk on-air especially when the enemy had intensified its surveillance and military operations for the sole purpose of capturing Ka Roger.

Indeed, life in the revolution is full of hardships and sacrifices. Ka Roger, as well as his wife, Ka Soly, also a revolutionary martyr who died in an encounter with the AFP early this year, were both conscious of the sacrifices they have to make in the course of serving the people and the revolution. Ka Roger and Ka Soly had more days spent apart than days spent together. They had much more days spent apart from their two children than days they spent together as a family. But these were sacrifices for the sake of fulfilling a higher call and greater goals. Goals that in due time both her children have embraced as their own. Like many revolutionary families, seeing their own children resolutely answer the call to serve the masses are Ka Roger and Ka Soly’s outright victory. Their children as fulltime revolutionaries of the underground movement are Ka Roger and Ka Soly’s unshakeable victory, an honor beyond price.

When Ka Roger stopped speaking on air for security reasons and later due to his flailing health condition, it was not only the masses that missed hearing his voice (perhaps the enemy, too?). It was, in fact, Ka Roger who missed seeing the faces of the masses, hearing their stories and sharing their everyday struggles. But Ka Roger did not lose heart. Despite his condition and limitations, he earnestly waits for and follows the news about every mass action, every triumphant tactical offensive and other revolutionary events that he hears over his worn out transistor. Quite believing that these actions are in themselves the voices of the people – the soul of the revolution.

The enemy may have also missed KR’s voice. But not out of concern but basically to fulfill their treacherous plan. One minute, the AFP maliciously announces about Ka Roger being dead, the next minute they would ironically offer medical assistance to an “ailing” Ka Roger on condition that he surrenders. Tricky offers that Ka Roger all turned down. Tricks that he comes up smiling in the end.

The National Democratic Front, the commanders and red fighters of the New Peoples Army and the revolutionary community in the Southern Tagalog Region salute and give tribute to a one great voice that shook the pillars of the present reactionary system; one great voice that exposed, opposed and refuted many a deceit and violence propagated by the local ruling class and its imperialist master, the United States.

On June 22, 2011, Ka Roger passed away due to heart attack. But his memory will live on in the hearts and minds of the masses. His voice will continue to resonate across the country’s hundred islands. It was Ka Roger’s undying voice that fused the voices of the oppressed and exploited Filipino people into one great revolutionary force. So great that we remember and honor his martyrdom by steadily strengthening, consolidating and advancing mass movements of the forces of national democracy – the working class and the peasantry; the petty bourgeoisie; and the national bourgeoisie. So great that we pay Ka Roger our highest tribute by transcending our grief into revolutionary fortitude and rally the broad masses of our people towards a resolute revolutionary struggle until victory.

Mabuhay ka, Ka Roger!
Mabuhay ang lahat ng martir ng rebolusyon!
Mabuhay ang sambayanan!