Long march, work stoppage to mark Ka Bel’s funeral

By Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:54:00 05/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines—A big funeral march is being planned for Anakpawis Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran on May 28, and militant groups are calling for a work stoppage on that day in homage to the late labor leader.

The work stoppage will be part of a National Day of Mourning and Protest, according to the Kilusang Mayo Uno, which Beltran once chaired, and the Anakpawis party-list group.

“All workers throughout the country, affiliated with KMU or not, are called on to leave work even for just a few hours on the day of Ka Bel’s burial,” KMU chair Elmer Labog said in a statement.

Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente invited the public to take part in the May 28 activities.

Said Clemente: “Ka Bel’s colorful and victorious life will serve as an inspiration for all poor people and toiling masses working to achieve changes in the social system.

“We will continue to protest the oppressive and corrupt government that Ka Bel fought his entire life.”

Beltran’s remains are to stay in his native Bacacay in Albay over the weekend before being flown back to Manila to lie in state at the House of Representatives.

Labog called on workers to join the funeral march from Congress to the Angel of Meadows Memorial and Nature Park at Pulong Yantok in Angat, Bulacan.

Workers’ hero

On Wednesday, KMU members are to wear black and red armbands as a symbol of “mourning and protest.”

They will also carry placards lauding Beltran as the workers’ hero and vowing to continue his fight for a P125 wage hike.

Workers in Baguio were also to stage a tribute program in the afternoon at People’s Park in the city, and will also send a contingent to the funeral in Manila.

Members of the militant transport group Pinag-isang Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) are to hang streamers in jeepney terminals.

“As an outstanding labor leader and a great hero of the people who served us for more than 53 years, [Ka Bel deserves] our highest salute,” Labog said, adding:

“His fight lives on. We will continue to campaign for the ouster of a corrupt, fake, fascist and puppet presidency, which made an innocent Ka Bel suffer despite his old age and frail health.”

Manila wake

Lawmakers as well as opposition politicians led by former President Joseph Estrada paid tribute to Beltran at his wake at the Iglesia Filipina Independiente cathedral in Manila.

Estrada, who described Beltran as “a hero of the poor and unprivileged,” shook hands with the other militant party-list lawmakers in the House—Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casiño and Liza Maza.

Also present were Senate President Manuel Villar and Senators Loren Legarda and Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal, who spoke before the mourners and became emotional as she recounted working with Beltran.

From the cathedral, Beltran’s remains were flown to Bicol before dawn yesterday.

Last wish

Anakpawis’ Clemente said that prior to Beltran’s demise, his original schedule included a trip to Bicol to attend the regional conference of labor groups and to take a short vacation with his daughter Ofelia and her family in Bacacay.

“His colleagues in Anakpawis and the Beltran family made sure that Ka Bel’s last wish was granted,” Clemente said.

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