Working class hero Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran leaves a living legacy

May 20, 2008

Working class hero Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran leaves a living legacy

Today, Rep. Crispin B. Beltran, ANAKPAWIS Party list representative on
his 3rd term in Congress, a great labor leader, an incorruptible
parliamentarian, staunch fighter for national freedom, democracy and
international working class solidarity, died at 11:48am at the FEU
hospital in Quezon City due to severe head injuries. He was 75.

We mourn with his family and friends, comrades and colleagues. Yet, in
his passing, he left a distinctive and brilliant legacy of fighting
for the interest of the workers and oppressed peoples. Rep. Beltran is
scheduled to file a bill to remove the e-vat on electric power to
lower the rates affecting his constituents. Rep. Beltran’s study of
his legislative measures are for the protection of the underprivileged
and other marginalized sectors.

Crispin Beltran, more endeared to the masses as “Ka Bel”, is a living
legend and epitome of militancy and progressive lawmaking in the
country. He is currently the Chairman of the national political party
Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Partylist and is its re-elected
Representative in the Philippine Congress.

Having been an activist for over fifty long years, Ka Bel is esteemed
by laborers, peasants, urban poor and other marginalized sectors as a
true defender of the toiling masses and staunch critic of
privatization, deregulation and other destructive policies of

Ka Bel also stands against the United States’ war of aggression on
Iraq and its war on terror. He also is steadfast in his call for
respect for national sovereignty and international unity against
foreign intervention.

During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, at an early age, Ka
Bel volunteered as a courier for the guerillas. After the war, he
worked as a farm hand and janitor to support his studies. He then
worked as a gasoline boy, messenger, bus driver and later on, a taxi
driver. At age 20, he joined his fellow drivers in a strike against
unfair labor practices. The police attacked their picket line, injured
many and claimed the lives of three protesting workers. Since then, Ka
Bel vowed to fight alongside the working class.

He organized the Amalgamated Taxi Drivers Association, for which he
served as President from 1955 up to 1963. Together with Felixberto ‘Ka
Bert’ Olalia and Feliciano Reyes, leaders of the Filipino labor
movement’s militant tradition, he organized the Confederation of Labor
of the Philippines (CLP). He was CLP’s Vice-President from 1963 to
1972. Ka Bel also helped found the Philippine Workers Congress and
other labor organizations such as KASAMA and PACMAP, which de facto
asserted their recognition during Martial Law.

Under the repressive martial law, Ka Bel helped establish the
Federation of Unions in Rizal and the Philippine Nationalist Labor
Organization (PANALO) until KMU was founded in 1980. From 100,000,
KMU’s membership soared to 500,000 in the 1980s. The establishment of
KMU united and strengthened the people in its fight against the
fascism of the Marcos dictatorship.

When Marcos launched a crackdown in August 1982, Ka Bel was one of
those arrested and detained. In November 1984, he was able to escape,
and went back to organizing workers and peasant s in the countryside.
When Ka Rolando “Lando” Olalia was brutally murdered in 1987, Ka Bel
took over the presidency of KMU. He ran for senator under the banner
of Partido ng Bayan that same year and garnered 1.52 mi llion votes
but lost due to massive “dagdag bawas” (ballot and vote switching)
scheme of elect ion fraud. He remained a leader of the militant union
until March 2003.

He also became a National Council Member of multi-sectoral alliance
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) which means New Patriotic Alliance)
in 1985 and also served as its national chairperson from 1993 to 1999.
Ka Bel became the chairman of the International League for People’s
Struggles in 2002. He is also considered as one of the pillars of
international working class solidarity in the era of globalization.

From February 2001 to November 2003, he served as Vice President and
one of the three representatives of Bayan Muna (People First)
Partylist to Congress, where he introduced legislations imbued with
his high sense of patriotism and advocacy of the rights and welfare of
the marginalized sectors.

In 2004, he became the representative for Anakpawis Partylist as a
sectoral representative of workers, peasants, urban poor and other
toiling masses.

Ka Bel was cited by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism as the
partylist representative in the 13th Congress with the most number of bills and
resolutions filed, totaling to 130, and with a nearly perfect attendance before
his arrest in February 2006.

His three-term stint in the House of Representatives has garnered him
awards such as Filipino of the Year and Most Outstanding Congressman
for four consecutive years from 2002 – 2005, and in 2006, was adjudged
part of the Congressional Hal l of Fame – all these and the respect of
the public he reaped even as the Arroyo regime continues to persecute
him and his fellow activists.

After his arrest and year-and-a-half long arbitrary and illegal
detention initiated by the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration, Ka
Bel was proven innocent of the rebellion charges against him.
Persecution, however, persists through the fabricated inciting to
sedition case that the Metropolitan Court of Quezon City refuses to
dismiss until now, despite legal prohibit ions for duly-elected
officials to be charged with crimes punishable by not more than s ix
years of imprisonment such as inciting to sedition.

In October 2007, Ka Bel exposed bribery attempts by administration
allies, particularly by KAMPI member Francis Ver. He was offered P2
million in exchange for his support to the weak impeachment complaint
against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Ka Bel is survived by 11 children, 29 grandchildren and 5 great-grand
children. His remains will be interred at his home, May 20, at Lot 16,
Blk. 30 Francisco, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, and transferred to the
UP Catholic Chapel starting May 21. ###

Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
Rm.602 South Wing, House of Representatives
Commonwealth, Quezon City

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