Beltran: A worker to the end

MANILA, Philippines — Anakpawis party-list Representative Crispin Beltran died the way he lived his life — as a worker, his friends in the labor and left-wing movement said Tuesday.

“His death delivers the strong message that he’s a worker; he belongs to the working class. He did not betray his class to the end,” human rights lawyer Romeo Capulong said in an interview.

“Imagine a man of his stature and at his age climbing the roof of his leaky house to protect his family and grandchildren from the elements. He’s really a member of the working class,” he added.

Capulong ran for senator in 1987 together with Beltran, Jose Burgos Jr., Horacio “Boy” Morales, Nelia Sancho, Jaime Tadeo and Bernabe Buscayno under the Partido ng Bayan. He also served as Beltran’s counsel in a string of cases.

Beltran was a taxi driver when he was taken in by Felixberto Olalia to be part of the Kilusang Mayo Uno in the 1970s. He rose through the ranks to become KMU leader, according to Capulong.

Burgos’ widow, Edita Burgos, agreed with Capulong’s observation: “His death gives us a message that that’s how a public servant should live. He led a simple way of living.”

“If you’re a congressman you can still choose the way to live your life. He could have hired people to fix the roof of his house, but he chose to do it himself,” she added.

She said that while her late husband “liked good food,” Beltran “loved to eat camote.” She said she believed that the lawmaker’s preference for sweet potatoes was by choice. “He chose to live a simple life,” she said.

“Joe respected him very much. Joe would tell me that Ka Bel was willing to give up his life for the country,” she added.

Fr. Jose Dizon, who advanced workers’ rights along with Beltran during martial law, said: “Even in death, he remained a workers’ leader.”

“He never wavered in his advocacy. He fought for workers’ rights at whatever risk. So even after he became a congressman, he pursued his advocacy. He never lost touch,” he said in an interview.

Farmer leader and agrarian reform advocate Jaime Tadeo expressed shock over the death of Beltran, saying: “He’s a great loss to the labor movement. He dedicated his life to improving the lot of the workers.”

“During our time, he was described as the hammer, and I the sickle,” said Tadeo, who chaired the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas while Beltran headed the KMU. (PDI)

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