SIKLAB – Canada (Advance and Uphold the Rights of Overseas Filipino Workers)


SIKLAB – Canada (Advance and Uphold the Rights of Overseas Filipino Workers)
National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada
Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance
Filipino Nurses Support Group
Philippines-Canada Task Force on Human Rights

Press Statement
May 20, 2008

Overseas Filipinos in Canada and Canadians mourn loss of ‘Ka Bel’; staunch advocate for Overseas Filipino Workers

The community of progressive Filipinos and Canadians in Canada are deeply saddened by the sudden death of Philippine Congressmen Crispin ‘Ka Bel’ Beltran yesterday. We send our sincerest condolences to his family.

At the age of 75, Ka Bel was considered a hero and staunch advocate for the rights of Overseas Filipino Workers, youth and women. We hold his memory dear in our hearts for we were fortunate to know him from his several visits to Canada.

In 1995, Ka Bel gave the keynote address at the founding of SIKLAB (Advance and Uphold the Rights of Overseas Filipino Workers) in Vancouver. Ka Bel always saw the struggle of Filipino migrant workers, including the some 100,000 Filipino women that have come to Canada under the Live-in Caregiver Program as part of the overall struggle for the rights and welfare of Filipino workers and for genuine change and freedom in the Philippines.

In 1997, Ka Bel returned as part of the Philippine delegation to the NO! to APEC (Network Opposed to Anti-People Economic Control) Second International People’s Conference Against Imperialist Globalization. As an internationalist, Ka Bel always connected to the situation of Filipino workers to the struggles of workers in countries around the world. While in Vancouver he even made it a point to visit the picketline of striking local postal workers.

Through his visits to Canada he was able to connect and build solidarity ties with many Canadian unions and people within the progressive labor and solidarity movement. His down-to-earth ways and friendly manner always warmed people to him.

When Ka Bel was elected into the Philippine House of Representatives as Representative of Anakpawis Party-list in 2004, he continued to advocate for the rights of Overseas Filipino Workers. His party introduced a resolution based on the calls of SIKLAB demanding that the Philippine government investigate alleged abuses of women workers under the Live-in Caregiver Program. This resolution helped highlight the issues of abuse and maltreatment of Filipina live-in caregivers in Canada.

When Ka Bel was unjustly and illegally arrested and detained on trumped-up charges of ‘rebellion’ in 2006 Filipinos across Canada rallied and actively campaigned for his release for over one year. Members of the progressive overseas Filipino organizations as well as delegates to the Fact-Finding Mission of the Philippines-Canada Task Force of Human Rights were able to visit him in hospital and also projected the campaign for his release in Canada. We were jubilant when he was finally released after being detained in hospital but his fabricated charges were never dropped. We believe that his unjust imprisonment resulted in the deterioration of his health.

His most recent trip to Canada was this year along with other progressive parliamentarians who lobbied various Members of Parliament to investigate the human rights abuses in the Philippines under the Arroyo government.

From his roots in the Philippine movement as a taxi driver, to labor leader to progressive Congressman, Ka Bel never wavered in his fight for the rights of the toiling masses, including those overseas. Although we are saddened at his passing away, and will miss him dearly, we vow to continue on his legacy by boldly continuing our organizing work amongst overseas Filipino workers, youth and women for their rights and welfare in Canada and to work towards Ka Bel and the Filipino people’s struggle for national democracy and genuine freedom in the Philippines where Filipinos are no longer forced to migrate abroad for survival.

For more information and for those who wish to contribute to Ka Bel’s family, please contact:

o Vancouver: Kalayaan Centre, ph: 604-215-1103, e-mail: pwc@kalayaancentre.net
o Montreal: Kabit Bisig Centre, ph: 514-678-3901, e-mail: pwcofquebec@gmail.com
o Toronto: Magkaisa Centre: 416-519-2553, e-mail: pwcontario@yahoo.ca

SIKLAB – Canada (Advance and Uphold the Rights of Overseas Filipino Workers)
National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada
Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance
Filipino Nurses Support Group
Philippines-Canada Task Force on Human Rights

IN VANCOUVER:
TRIBUTE TO KA BEL’S LEGACY: CONTINUE THE STRUGGLE!
PARANGAL KAY KA BEL: TULOY ANG LABAN!
Saturday, May 26, 2008
6:00 pm
Kalayaan Centre, 451 Powell Street, Vancouver, B.C.

*In other Canadian cities, details to be announced

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: