Archive for the ‘Ka Bel’ Category

Letter of Thanks of the family of Ka Bel and the Anakpawis Partylist

August 4, 2008

July 21, 2008

Salamat sa Young Blood article, “Quiapo Vendors” ni Ms. Lucero, na lumabas sa PDI.

On July 19, 2008, we went to Plaza Miranda to look for the Flower’s Vendors Association. We easily found the vendors selling flowers along the mall at the side of Plaza Miranda near Quiapo Church. I asked about the president of their association and met Mrs. Maria S. Batac, from San Fernando, Pampanga. I learned that Ms. Lucero bought the flowers from her.

Maya-maya ay ngumiti siya. Nagtanong siya kung kailan kami pupunta sa puntod ni Ka Bel. Magpapadala uli siya ng mga bulaklak (at inisa isa na ang mga bulaklak). Pinigil ko siya, at sinabing “sa Bulacan po siya nakalibing, baka ho malanta agad ang mga bulaklak.”

Aling Maring said, “basta nakababad sa tubig ang mga bulaklak ay matagal itong malanta.” Para lang huwag na siyang mag-abala pa, I told her na “ganito na lang po, Aling Maring. Pag kailangan namin ng mga bulaklak, sa inyo na lang kami oorder at magpapagawa. Hihingi na lang po kami ng discount.” Tumango siya at sabay sabi sa amin na, “sige, kayo ang bahala. Hihintayin ko kayo.”

Binanggit ko sa kanya na marami ang nakabasa at naluha sa artikulo ni Ms. Lucero. Kaya, hinanap namin sila para mapasalamatan. Sabay abot ko sa kanya ng dala naming Thank You cards mula sa pamilya at Anakpawis Partylist. Naluluha-luha niyang binasa at tinitigan ang mga cards na iniabot ko sa kanya. Pansamantala kaming nagpaalam at sinabing babalik kami sa kanyang puwesto para muling makipagkuwentuhan.

Marami pang ibang simpleng tao na hindi namin kakilala ang nagpunta sa burol ni Ka Bel. Tulad ng isang lalaki na tuwing umaga ay pinupunasan ang kabaong ni Ka Bel. Nang tinanong siya ng isa kong kapatid, ang sagot niya ay “ito man lang ay magawa ko para kay Ka Bel, bago man lang siya ilibing.”

Napakarami, di mabilang ang mga simpleng tao, marami sa kanila ang nanggaling pa sa probinsiya ang nagtungo sa Iglesia Filipina Independencia (IFI) para masilayan sa huling sandali ang katawan ni Ka Bel at magbigay ng kanilang respeto, kilalanin ang simpleng buhay at puspusang pakikibaka ni Ka Bel para sa interes ng masang anakpawis.

Nais namin silang puntahan at makilala, para tulad ni Aling Maring ay maabutan ko ng Thank You Card ng aming pamilya at ng Anakpawis Partylist. Higit pa rito, ay maiparamdam namin sa inyo ang mahigpit at mainit na pakikipagkamay at masabi sa inyo ang aming taos pusong pasasalamat.

OFELIA BELTRAN
Anak ni Ka Bel

Advertisements

Cartel, GATT-WTO, Gov’t Polices to Blame for Rice Crisis

June 11, 2008

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines) said that the current rice crisis is a result of hoarding by the rice cartel, loopholes in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, and the government’s policy of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization, which is in line with its commitment to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade-World Trade Organization (GATT-WTO).

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines) said that the current rice crisis is a result of hoarding by the rice cartel, loopholes in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, and the government’s policy of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization, which is in line with its commitment to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade-World Trade Organization (GATT-WTO).

This crisis, KMP said, cannot be solved neither by the government’s aggressive importation of rice nor by the extension of the CARP.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, early last week, certified as urgent House Bill No. 4077, which provides for a five-year extension for CARP. HB 4077 provides for an allocation of P100 million ($2.27 million at the June 6 exchange rate of $1:P44.14).

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law was signed in 1988 and was intended to be in force until 1998. CARP expired in 1998 but was extended for another 10 years. It expires again on June 10 this year.

Based on DAR data, only 3.96 million hectares out of the target 5.16 million hectares, or 77 percent, under CARP have been redistributed.

Usec. Gerundio Madueño of the Department of Agrarian Reform supported the extension of CARP saying that extending CARP will help improve the country’s rice production.

“By completing CARP, it will help in the increase in the production of rice ‘cause the farmers will be given the basic rural infrastructure, technology, the training and support for their cooperatives and training for themselves,” Gerundio said.

But Madueño’s claim was belied by KMP secretary-general Danilo Ramos. He pointed out that the country had experienced rice crises under CARP. This, he said, does not give a promising picture of CARP’s supposed ability to solve the rice crisis.

“When did we first experience a rice crisis?” Ramos said. “That was during FVR’s (Fidel V. Ramos) time (as President). 1994-1995. CARP ended only in 1998, before it was extended for another 10 years. That means that experience shows that CARP is not a solution to rice crises.”

The rice cartel

“In fact, during FVR’s time, rice supply increased by 350 percent, but prices nevertheless soared,” he added. “Why? Because of the cartel.”

The rice crisis of 1994-1995 was largely a result of the partial privatization of the National Food Authority (NFA), which then procured only 0.5 percent of total palay (unhusked rice) production. Private traders took advantage of the situation, creating an artificial rice shortage by hoarding supplies. This caused rice prices to jump by 90-100 percent.

The present rice crisis is also largely traceable to the activities of a rice cartel, known as the Big Seven, whose members, aside from being able to channel production to itself through a network of traders, are also allowed to import heavily.

The members of the Big Seven have been identified in Senate investigations as Joaquin Go Soliman (JOMERCO Trading), Pio Sy Lato (PNS Grains Center), Ramon Ang Syson (Family Native Supply), Gil Go (Jocardo Merchandising), Leoncio Tan/Janet Tiu (Leoneco Merchandising), Santos See (Manila Goodyear), and Teofredo Co (Teofredo Trading).

CARP and GATT-WTO

The depredations wrought by the rice cartel are aggravated by CARP’s loopholes and the government’s implementation of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization policies in accordance with the GATT-WTO (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade-World Trade Organization) framework.

The Philippines is now the world’s top importer of rice, according to the socio-economic think tank IBON Foundation – a far cry from its status as a self-sufficient, rice-exporting country in the 1980s. IBON Foundation’s research also shows that the Philippines devotes only 4 million hectares to rice production – contrasting sharply with Vietnam, with more than 7 million hectares planted to rice, and Thailand which devotes more than 10 million hectares.

Lands planted to cash crops are exempted from CARP. The owners of lands planted to rice and corn, which are subject to CARP, have found a way out of the government’s agrarian reform program through crop conversion. This contributed to the decrease in rice production.

Under the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), which the Senate ratified in 1995, the Philippines has been forced to meet a minimum rice importation requirement, whether or not the country has sufficient rice yields. The Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA), which Ramos signed into law in 1997, aims for further privatization of the NFA and increased private-sector participation in rice importation.

The NFA is mandated by law to procure at least 12 percent of palay production. From an average of 7.95 percent of palay production in 1977-1983, the NFA’s procurement dropped to 3.63 percent in 1984-2000 and from 2001-2006 was only 0.05 percent of total production.

Rice imports have increased from 257,260 metric tons (MT) in 1995 to 1.7 million MT in 2006. This year, the government has secured the importation of some 2.2 million MT of rice from Vietnam, Thailand, and the U.S. – the country’s largest volume of rice importation since 1998.

“The government’s ratification to the GATT meant full liberalization of Philippine agriculture, particularly the emphasis on export crops and, on the other hand, rice importation,” Ramos said. “That is why in 1994, when the GATT was being deliberated upon in the Senate, we put forward a position urging them to reject it.”

The government’s Medium-Term Agriculture Development Plan (MTDAP) aims to reduce rice and corn production from 5 million MT to 3.1 million MT. Meanwhile, the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) for 2004-2010 aims for “the development of 2 million hectares of new agribusiness lands through multi-cropping, the cultivation of idle and marginal lands, the expansion of fishery production in unutilized offshore and inland waters, and expansion of the product mix through high value crops and value-adding through innovative packaging and agro-processing.”

The reduction of rice production and the country’s increased dependence on rice importation have placed the people more and more at the mercy of private traders, who control rice prices.

HB 3059

The KMP is calling for the passage of House Bill No. 3059, or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill. Principally authored by the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin Beltran, the bill provides for free distribution of land to farmers, the expansion of agrarian reform coverage to include all agricultural lands, and government support services for beneficiaries. Bulatlat

Ka Bel: Proletarian internationalist, hero of the working class and the Filipino people

June 6, 2008

Message of the Central Committee
of the Communist Party of the Philippines

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) pays the highest tribute to Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, a great hero of the international proletarian movement, the international anti-imperialist movement, the militant workers’ movement in the Philippines, the toiling masses and the Filipino people. The entire CPP and the revolutionary movement it leads salute him as a fine and valiant proletarian leader.

His death on May 20, 2008 at the age of 75 is mourned by the oppressed. Along with the rest of the Filipino people, the CPP conveys its deepest sympathies to his bereaved wife Ka Osang and his family, friends and comrades in the struggle. The Filipino people likewise celebrate the victories they have won with Ka Bel. These triumphs provide great inspiration, strength and enthusiasm to carry on with the struggle.

In the veins of Ka Bel flowed the blood of Gat Andres Bonifacio and all the Filipino revolutionary heroes. Like our revolutionary ancestors, Ka Bel laid down his life for the cause of the toiling masses and the entire people against oppression, exploitation, plunder and bondage by foreigners, tyrants and rapacious elements. He offered his life and talents in advancing the struggle of the working class, the toiling masses, the Filipino people and the peoples of the world.

In the face of myriad sacrifices and trials, his steadfastness and enthusiasm never waned in championing the interest of his class and of the Filipino masses, in pursuit of a sovereign, just and prosperous future. Be it in the picket lines or in the halls of Congress, in the streets or in peasants’ fields, in rallies or in gatherings, Ka Bel had always been a true fighter who stood firm, daring and vigorous in waging the struggle for national liberation, democracy and socialism.

At a young age, he served as a courier for the patriotic guerrilla forces fighting the Japanese occupation during the Second World War. In his youth, he farmed and eventually found work as a janitor, gasoline boy, messenger, bus driver and taxi driver. At the age of 20, along with his fellow drivers at the Yellow Taxi Driver’s Union, Ka Bel staged a strike opposing the company’s unjust policies. Three workers were mercilessly killed and many others wounded when police forces brutally dismantled their picket line.

His fellow workers recognized Ka Bel’s bravery, strength and militancy and elected him union president. Ka Bel was among the pioneer organizers of Amalgamated Taxi Drivers Federation, and served as its president from 1955 to 1963. During the time of intense anti- communist witchhunts and repression of the legal democratic movement in the 1950s, Ka Bel stood strong in defense of the oppressed.

From 1963-1972, Ka Bel served as vice president of the Confederation of Labor Unions of the Philippines (CLP) that he founded with Felixberto “Ka Bert” Olalia, Feliciano Reyes and Cesar Lacarra, all militant labor leaders. He was also one of the founders of the Philippine Workers Congress, Katipunan ng Samahan ng mga Manggagawa (KASAMA), PACMAP and other workers’ organizations. The workers under their leadership relentlessly fought against capitalist oppression and exploitation as well as Marcosian repressiveness until martial rule was declared.

Ka Bel stood unfazed by the reign of state terror under the USMarcos dictatorship. He played a significant role in the formation of the Federation of Unions in Rizal and of the Philippine Nationalist Labor Organization (PANALO) that was later transformed into the Alliance of Nationalist Genuine Labor Organizations (ANGLO). These were all part of the preparations for the establishment in 1980 of a center for a genuine, fighting, anti-imperialist and militant labor movement in the Philippines—the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) or the May First Movement. Ka Bel served as the first secretary general of KMU and Ka Bert Olalia, the chairperson. In the 1980s, KMU’s membership swiftly ballooned from 100,000 to half a million workers.

Marcos felt seriously threatened by the growing strength of the KMU and the labor movement it headed. He attempted to suppress the KMU. In August 1982, he ordered the arrest and detention of Ka Bel and Ka Bert. They, however, remained symbols of the genuine, patriotic and militant labor movement, and even behind bars, stood as strong symbols of the opposition against the US-Marcos dictatorship.

Ka Bel manifested his bravery and resistance to the Marcos dictatorship when he managed to escape from his military guards in November 1984. He joined the armed revolutionary movement in Central Luzon where, as a member of the New People’s Army, he vigorously aroused, organized and mobilized farmers in the countryside. “Ka Anto” was his nom de guerre, drawn from the nickname of Crisanto Evangelista, a great labor leader and founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines in 1930. Ka Bel contributed immensely in forging a stronger worker-peasant alliance in the area.

When Marcos was ousted and the political situation turned relatively favorable for the open mass movement, Ka Bel surfaced and became active once again in KMU. He took over as chairperson following the brutal killing by the military in November 1986 of Rolando “Ka Lando” Olalia.

Ka Bel was also one of the founders of Partido ng Bayan (PnB) or People’s Party under which he ran for senator in 1987. Amid the repressive terror campaign and massive poll fraud by the ruling rotten politicians and the military forces, Ka Bel and the rest of the slate lost in the elections. He was also a National Council Member of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) or the New Patriotic Alliance which he chaired from 1993 to 1999.

Ka Bel remained KMU’s chairperson until 2003, after which he was proclaimed KMU’s Chairman Emeritus in recognition of his remarkable leadership and the inspiration he provided the workers.

As a labor leader, Ka Bel was active in supporting the workers’ struggles and championing the cause of the oppressed people in the country and abroad. He was frequently invited to participate in conferences in a number of countries and international forums. He persevered in the struggles of the world proletariat and the international solidarity of oppressed peoples against imperialist plunder, bondage and oppression. Ka Bel was the first chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle and its International Coordinating Committee in 2001 and became its Chairman Emeritus in 2004.

Ka Bel also served as vice president of Bayan Muna (BM) party from 2001 to 2003 and sat as one of its representatives in Congress after BM got the most number of votes in the party-list elections. Ka Bel likewise became the chairperson of Partidong Anakpawis upon its founding in 2004, and consequently became its representative in Congress from 2004 to 2007 and again from 2007 until his death.

As a representative in Congress, Ka Bel along with other progressive representatives was famed for his relentless criticism of the rotten ruling system and corrupt rule, in drafting bills and resolutions that promoted the national and democratic interests of the toiling masses and the Filipino people.

Foremost among the bills he filed was one calling for a P125 increase in the daily minimum wage of workers that was approved by Congress in 2007 after seven years of struggle. This was, however, later blocked by Gloria Arroyo and returned to Congress for the final kill by her minions.

Until his last days, Ka Bel pursued this bill especially in the face of the worsening poverty and hunger caused by the regime’s proimperialist and antipeople economic policies. On the day he died, Ka Bel, together with the other progressive solons, were preparing to pass a resolution calling for the removal of the EVAT from electricity charges. He was likewise active in pushing for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill and deterring the Arroyo regime’s maneuver to extend the bogus and pro-landlord Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Within and outside the halls of Congress, Ka Bel was relentless and vigorous in his conviction to fight the rotten and puppet Arroyo regime. He was among the active proponents of the impeachment case against Arroyo in 2005. In October 2007, Ka Bel exposed the bribery attempt by members of Gloria Arroyo’s party on him and other oppositionist solons. They were offered several millions of pesos to support the fake impeachment case that was aimed at sabotaging the filing of the genuine and new impeachment case against Arroyo. He always joined rallies and similar protests in the streets, especially for the welfare of the workers and the toiling masses.

Ka Bel was awarded the title Filipino of the Year in 2002 by the Philippine Graphic Magazine in recognition of his tireless support for the welfare of the majority of power consumers and other of impoverished Filipinos. The same title was awarded to him by the Philippines Free Press in 2003 in his determination to take on the interest of the toiling masses. Every year, he was chosen as the Most Outstanding Congressman from 2002 until 2005. In 2006, he was included in the Congressional Hall of Fame.

In spite of the countless awards he received, Ka Bel remained an honest and humble worker, servant and people’s warrior. Inside an institution of the rotten system filled with billionaires and crooks plundering the nation’s wealth, Ka Bel took home not a single centavo for himself. In the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth he submitted as a Congressional representative, he declared as personal “assets” his two barong tagalog, a few other clothes, a pair of eyeglasses and cabinets. He died the poorest among all congressmen.

Because of the militancy Ka Bel and the other progressive representatives displayed in the streets, in various arenas of protests, and even within the halls of Congress, Malacañang never stopped persecuting them by filing trumped-up charges against them.

The Arroyo regime arrested Ka Bel on February 25, 2006 and detained him for one and a half years. His body was weakened by incarceration and state repression so he was transferred to hospital detention. Ka Bel was only freed after 15 months when the Supreme Court junked the baseless rebellion cases filed by the regime against him and over 50 other progressive leaders and activists.

Upon his release and return to Congress, Ka Bel did not waste a single day and continued his fight against the Arroyo regime and the rotten system and in championing the cause of the toiling masses.

Ka Bel died in the midst of intense struggle and tireless resistance against repression, bondage and cruelty under the US-Arroyo regime and the entire semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system. In spite of his age and weakened constitution, Ka Bel remained very active in attending conferences and meetings here and abroad to strengthen the unity of the Filipino people and raise their militant consciousness and determination to end the rule of the puppet, brutal and rotten Arroyo regime.

He left us a golden legacy of militant struggle. Like his predecessors Ka Bert Olalia, Ka Lando Olalia, Ka Amado Hernandez, Ka Crisanto Evangelista and Ka Isabelo delos Reyes and other Filipino labor leaders, the memories and spirit of Crispin “Ka Bel” Betran will forever remain etched in the Filipino people’s collective memory.

His story is a wellspring of inspiration. His humility and simple living, courage and determination to fight marked his unwavering service to the masses in his desire to change, end exploitation and advance the struggle for national liberation and democracy.

Like many others from the toiling masses, he died while repairing his humble abode. In life and in death, he was a model of simple and dignified living and faithfulness to principles and struggle.

With clenched fists, the hundreds of thousands of members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Red fighters of the New People’s Army and the millions of revolutionary people in the cities and countryside accord the highest tribute to Ka Bel.

Long live the memory, aspirations and struggles of Ka Bel!

Long live the working class!

Long live the toiling masses!

Love live the Philippine revolution!

Weekly Reflections: Ka Bel: A man for others

June 4, 2008

By REV. LUNA L. DINGAYAN

“For what has a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” — Matthew 16:26 46:1-3

God’s sense of humor

I would like to add my reflections to the countless accolades and eulogies uttered and written on the life of Ka Bel.

The Book of Ecclesiastes says that there is time for everything: a time to be born and a time to die (3:2). But God must have a sense of humor. Ka Bel had lived a dangerous life for the good of the working class and toiling masses, militantly struggling against the Marcos Dictatorship as well as the repressive and corrupt regimes that followed after, whether in the parliament of the streets or in the parliament of congress until his death.

Yet, Ka Bel died not by assassin’s bullets or in the hands of torturers or while marching and protesting in the streets, but rather by accidentally falling down while doing some repairs in the roof of his house in preparation for the rainy days. Some might say that his death as well as his life would have had greater impact if he died while in the midst of fighting the evils of today’s society. But what happened to Ka Bel would only show to us that we could not really dictate when or how we should die. Many times death comes to us at a time when it is least expected. Hence, we should always be ready for its coming.

Man for others

But nevertheless, we have to look at the meaning of Ka Bel’s death not only in terms of the immediate circumstances surrounding his death, but rather in terms of his total life. After reading and listening to all the things that were said and written about his life, I would say that Ka Bel is “a man for others”. This is a phrase coined by the great German theologian and martyr Deitrich Bonhoeffer, referring to the life of Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus spent his life not for himself but for others – he “proclaim good news to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind, set free the oppressed, and announce that a day will come when God will save His people.” (Lk.4:19)

Like Christ, Bonhoeffer also spent his life for others. He was one of the leaders of the underground Confessional Church fighting against Hitler and his Nazism. He was arrested, tortured and executed on the charge that he was one of those who plotted the failed assassination attempt against Hitler. Truly, Bonhoeffer lived up to his own theology. He was the one who said that if Christ would call a person, he calls him or her to die.

Also, Ka Bel is a man for others, because until his last breath he lived his life for others, for the members of his family, and for the bigger society, especially those who are poor and oppressed like himself. Like Jesus and Deitrich, he was also arrested and tortured by the powers-that-be. Although he was not executed, and was able to escape from prison, he did not stop fighting for the good of the masses, even in the halls of congress. Yet, he never forgot to care for his family. He raised and brought up his family out of his own sweat. In fact, he died while fixing the roof of his modest house so that his family will have a shelter from the storms.

Never lost his soul

Ka Bel never lost his soul or principle in life. Although it was very tempting for him being a party-list representative, he never sold his soul to the devil or to the mammon, the so-called god of money. He remained the poorest man in the House of Representatives, where many have become wealthy in exchange for their souls. He exemplified in his life what Jesus Christ our Lord has taught us that authentic life is consisted not in what we have but in what we share (cf. Lk.12:15; 18:22).

Indeed, Ka Bel deeply understood what Jesus Christ our Lord meant when he said, “For what has a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mt. 16:26). We are truly grateful to God for Ka Bel’s life – it is a life that goes beyond death. #

Meeting Ka Bel Up Close for the First and Last Time

June 3, 2008

I recently talked with a friend who told me that if only Ka Bel’s death was more heroic, his wake could have attracted more people. But after my personal encounter with Ka Bel that night- after seeing, hearing and feeling the life of Ka Bel through his family, friends, peers, peers,a nd comrades – I realized that what is important is not how he died. It is about what he did when he was still alive.

BY JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 17, June 1-7, 2008

The streamers of Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement) and other organizations have set the mood for the people entering the Iglesia Filipina Independiente Cathedral at busy Taft Ave. last May 27.  One gets the feeling that s/he is not merely entering a wake but also a rally.  The atmosphere created by the banners and numerous solidarity statements extolling Crispin Beltran is not only of mourning but also of militance. The first thing that would remind the visitor that it is indeed a funeral is the ubiquitous guest book near the door.  But what strikes the visitor, upon entering the church, is the magnificent painting of labor leader and Anakpawis Representative Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran.  The painting exudes strength and vigor; it’s as if he was alive.

I have not met Ka Bel personally.  I could have, a week before he died.  I was covering a rally then, with my co-intern Hannah, when we were approached by one of Ka Bel’s staff asking us if we would want to interview him, pointing to a van parked nearby.  But we were in a hurry and we declined the invitation.  We never thought that it would be our last opportunity to meet the man who is now being revered as a true representative of the people and a person from the working class till the end.  I have only seen Ka Bel in some of his television interviews and newspaper clippings before. But I can still barely remember the details of the aged but unwavering icon of the Filipino people and the workers’ struggle.

Near the altar, some people were busy rehearsing for a cultural number that would be presented that night. The performers and the technical aspects of the show seemed to synchronize so well that it’s as if they have been practicing for almost two weeks now. But Ka Bel has been dead for only less than a week, so one can imagine the time and effort that people put into this event to pay tribute to Ka Bel.

I was not aware that people from all walks of life were already arriving in droves until I noticed that there were already people sitting along the aisle of the church. I looked behind me saw that there were also a lot of people  standing at the back, waiting for the event to begin. It took some time before the people joining the tribute settled down as they waved their hellos to familiar faces and initiated small chitchats. The people who came that night seemed to know each other very well. It was like a big family reunion, a family bonded by their shared perspective in life.

The Grand Tribute

The grand tribute for Ka Bel portrayed how he carved his selfless battle that started at a very young age. He was a witness to the suffering of his fellow Filipinos when Japan invaded the country. This drove him to do auxiliary work such as being a messenger for the guerillas at the age of 10.

From then on, the pieces of his life story seem to build up to what he is known for right now. From being a humble taxi driver, and a militant labor leader fighting the Marcos dictatorship, he became a lawmaker under the partylist group Bayan Muna (People First) then Anakpawis.

Aside from illustrating how Ka Bel was as a lawmaker and a comrade in the militant labor movement, the tribute also showed the other side of Ka Bel: that of being a family man and a boss. The love story of Ka Bel and his wife seemed to intrigue the people while the song of the staff of Anakpawis for Ka Bel brought silence to the church as the audience listened attentively.

One of the highlights of the event was when some of Ka Bel’s pictures were shown in a slideshow as his favorite song Imagine by John Lennon was played in the background. Emotions of sadness and grief poured out and filled the air. I looked around and saw that everybody was teary-eyed, so was I.

At first I could not understand why it made me feel as if I have known him very well. But after listening to the testimonies of the people that night, I felt Ka Bel’s contribution in my life. The mere thought of him living a humble life made me think that he did not only defend the welfare of the poor but shared their agony as well.

A Hero

I recently talked with a friend who told me that if only Ka Bel’s death was more heroic, his wake could have attracted more people. But after my personal encounter with Ka Bel that night – after seeing, hearing and feeling the life of Ka Bel through his family, friends, peers, and comrades – I realized that what is important is not how he died. It is about what he did when he was still alive.

I see Ka Bel as a man who chose a battle that would not give him any personal gain but is for the interest of the whole country. The celebrant of the ecumenical service said that some people Ka Bel helped are now better off than he is. But I think this is not surprising for a man who shared not the crumbs but the best he has to offer. Bulatlat

Mga litrato: Pambansang Araw ng Pagluluksa at Protesta para kay Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran

May 30, 2008

Muli kong ilinalathala dito ang mga kaganapan sa huling araw ng labi ni Ka Bel, kasama ang mga manggagawa at alyadong kanyang pinagsilbihan at pinag-alayan ng buhay.

Ang mga larawan ay kuha ng mga lente’ng hawak nina Ilang-Ilang Quijano, Danny Pata, Kenneth Guda, KJ Rosales at John Clemente.

Maraming salamat sa Pinoy Weekly, ang nagmamay-ari ng mga larawang nakatala sa ibaba.

==================================
Mula sa katedral ng Iglesia Filipino Indipendiente sa Taft Ave. kung saan ibinurol si Anakpawis Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, nagmartsa ang progresibong mga grupo, sa pangunguna ng KMU (Kilusang Mayo Uno), patungong Mendiola, sa unang bahagi ng libing-martsa noong Mayo 28. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

Nagpadala ng mga bulaklak ang Revolutionary Council of Trade Unions, National Democratic Front of the Philippines, at Communist Party of the Philippines bilang pagpupugay kay Beltran, 75, na namatay sa aksidenteng pagkakahulog sa bubungan ng kanyang tahanan noong Mayo 20. (Danny Pata)

Nakaimprenta sa t-shirt ng manggagawang ito ang makasaysayang mga salitang binitiwan ni Beltran noong nililitis siya para sa paglaban sa diktadurang Marcos. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

Binabasa ng mag-inang ito ang isang polyetong nagpapaliwanang ng kahulugan ng buhay ni Beltran, na ipinamahagi ng mga raliyista sa dinaraanang maralitang mga komunidad. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

Naglakbay pa mula Timog Katagalugan ang mga manggagawang ito para makiluksa at makiprotesta sa pagpanaw ng lider-obrerong tumulong sa kanilang mga pakikibaka para sa sahod at trabaho. Dumalo rin ang mga manggagawa mula sa mga rehiyon ng Kordilyera, Gitnang Luzon, at Bikol. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

Itinapon pabalik ni Elmer Labog, tagapangulo ng KMU, ang mga bulaklak na ipinadala ni Pangulong Arroyo sa burol ni Beltran. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

Ayon sa Anakpawis at KMU, isang kahangalan ang pakikiramay ng Pangulo kay Beltran na ipinaaresto niya noong 2006 at ipinakulong nang mahigit isang taon na bahagi umano ng panggigipit sa oposisyon. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

Ibinuhat ang mga labi ni Beltran papasok ng Kamara nina Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo at Teddy Casino, Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza, at iba pang mga kaibigan at katrabaho. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

Pinangunahan ni Fr. Joe Dizon ang necrological mass para kay Beltran. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

Mahigit kumulang 80 kongresista at mahigit 1,000 tagasuporta ni Beltran ang dumalo sa misa at seremonya sa loob ng session hall ng Kamara. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

Binasbasan ni House Espiker Prospero Nograles ang mga labi ni Beltran. (KJ Rosales)

Kasama ng mga apo, muling sumulyap sa kanyang kabiyak Si Rosario Beltran, na may 10 anak sa kongresista. (Kenneth Guda)

Sa talumpati ni Ocampo, pinatotohanan niya ang pagiging huwaran ng simpleng pamumuhay ni Beltran, na kadalasa’y walang pera sa bulsa. Pinasaringan niya si Arroyo at mga kaalyado nito (kabilang si Nograles sa kanyang likuran) na umano’y nagpahirap sa mga tunay na naninilbihan sa sambayanan tulad ng yumaong kongresista. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)


Mula Kamara, muling nagmartsa ang nagluluksang mga raliyista patungong Fairview. (KJ Rosales)

Tuloy ang Laban, kanilang paulit-ulit na sigaw. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

Umabot sa mahigit 20,000 ang mga dumalo sa makasaysayang martsa-libing. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

Inihatid si Beltran sa kanyang huling hantungan sa Angel of Meadows sa Angat, Bulacan ng kanyang mga tagasuporta, kaibigan (kabilang si Sen. Jamby Madrigal), katrabaho, at kapamilya . Taas-kamaong pinagpugayan ang lider-obrero sa pamamagitan ng pagkanta ng Internationale, pandaigdigang awit ng mga manggagawa. (John Clemente)

PROMETHEUS BOUND: Ka Bel’s electric dream

May 30, 2008


By Giovanni Tapang, Ph.D.

Crispin Beltran was laid to rest yesterday. The labor leader and advocate of the poor was 75 when he fell down a ladder while fixing their roof. He has been the consumer’s champion against high electricity rates inside and outside of Congress. He went to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to petition against unwarranted rate increases and joined pickets and rallies on power related issues. On the day of his death, Congressman Beltran would have had filed a bill to remove the value added tax (VAT) on electric power, which accounts for a little more than 10 percent of our electric bill.

Ka Bel has taken the adage of “practicing what you preach” seriously in his advocacy for lower electricity rates. In 2001, he refused to pay the Power Purchase Adjustment (infamously known as the PPA) which accounted for more than half of his bill. His refusal to pay for undelivered power led to the disconnection of his electricity service.

As electricity rates rise amid the already high cost of food and fuel, the government’s solution is an Arroyo take-over of Meralco and the acceleration of Napocor’s privatization. Will these really stop ever-increasing electricity rates and reduce our electricity bill?

Half of our electric bill is taken up by the generation rate where part of the PPA that Ka Bel refused to pay was hidden. It includes the take-or-pay provisions in the contracts of independent power producers (IPP) with distributors and Napocor. It ensures guaranteed returns for the IPPs even in cases where no power is delivered to our homes. One estimate is that these take-or-pay provisions account for more than 15 percent of our total bill.

Government taxes account for another ten percent of our power bill. There is VAT applied on the generation, transmission and distribution components of our bill. There is even VAT on systems loss and subsidies for the lifeline rates taken from customers using more than 100 kWh per month. Subsidies and franchise taxes add another 1.35 percent to the total.

Systems-loss accounts for another nine percent. It is mainly due to any technical inefficiency on the part of the distributors, their in-house use of electricity and pilferages. Why are we paying for pilferage when a violator is required to pay consequent fees under the Anti-Pilferage Act?

Additional pass-on charges include the metering charge and universal charges. In the future, stranded cost and debt recoveries of Napocor and distribution utilities which amount to around P200 billion will be collected from consumers.

All these charges add up to around 40 percent of our electricity bills. If you include other government royalties, these pass on charges could rise to about half of our power costs. This means that only the remaining half of our electric bill is electric power that you have actually used. The rest are due to pass-on charges, taxes and undelivered power due to inefficiencies and take-or-pay contracts. This is the same problem that Congressman Beltran pointed out in 2001 and only shows that the PPA remains embedded in our electricity rates.

Instead of waging an advertisement war and staging a takeover of Meralco, the government could have immediately reduced our bill to half by removing the VAT and government taxes on power, the systems loss and renegotiating to remove the take-or-pay provisions in IPP contracts.

The government could have moved to repeal the Electric Power Industry Reform Act which allows passing on these charges to consumers. Under the EPIRA, one of the first laws Mrs. Arroyo signed during her presidency, consumers seem to be the perpetual milking cow of the government, distribution utilities, Napocor and independent power producers. Under the government’s plan to accelerate the privatization of Napocor, we can only expect more rate increases as consumers absorb the losses incurred by the power industry players.

In addition, consumers must not be made to shoulder other recoveries such as the P14 billion Napocor-Meralco settlement and the P9 billion in generation charges from Napocor’s “market-power abuse” in the WESM in 2006. Both cases are pending in the ERC.

Ka Bel’s electric dream of reducing power rates can be realized if laws such as the EPIRA that are biased against consumers are scrapped and cheap and accessible utilities like electricity are made available to the public. We cannot have band-aid solutions that only provide brownie points to the government but will burden the people in the long run.

prom.bound@gmail.com

Statements: Ka Bel, Bayani ka ng Masang Pilipino! Highest Salutations to the Grand Old Man of Philippine Labor

May 29, 2008

By KILUSANG MAYO UNO CORDILLERA

May 20, 2008

“If helping the poor is a crime and fighting for freedom is rebellion then I plead guilty as charged” — Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran (21 years ago on the rebellion charges against him by the Marcos dictatorship)

The militant workers of the Cordillera Region under the flagship of Kilusang Mayo Uno-Cordillera join the Filipino masses in celebrating the life and works of the great leader and fighter of the oppressed Anakpawis Representative Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, who died at 11:48 A.M. on May 20.

Beltran succumbed to lacerations of the head and brain injuries that resulted from a fall in his house in Muzon, Bulacan. He was first rushed to the Far Eastern University Hospital in Quezon City which declared that the congressman is “brain dead” after at least four cardiac arrests since arrival. He was later transferred at the Caloocan Doctors’ Hospital. Beltran is 75.

Ka Bel is a big loss to Filipinos especially the poor as they lose a brilliant and brave father who dedicated his life in giving utmost servitude for the advancement of the democratic rights and welfare of the Filipino people. He firmly stood for what he believed in, fighting against the exploitations and oppressions and struggling for a just and democratic society in the country.

Ka Bel was a true-blooded working class hero. He courageously fought for the democratic rights and welfare of the Filipino workers for almost 54 years. A trade unionist ever since 1955, he helped in the establishment of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (May 1st movement) forwarding genuine, militant, and nationalist unionism. He is the chairman emeritus of the KMU before his death.

He became the vice-chairman of the Partido ng Bayan (PnB) from 1986 to 1987. He was one of the first set of representatives of the progressive Partylist Bayan Muna in 2001 until 2004. From 2004 until the time he died, he is the representative of Anakpawis Partylist.

He is the chairman of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan). He is also the founding chairman of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles.

Ka Bel was born on January 7, 1933 at Bacacay, Albay. He attended elementary at the Bacacay Elementary School (1938-1941; 1946-1949). He finished secondary education at the Albay High School (1949-1953), went to the Philippine School of Arts and Trades (1953-1955). He took up Marine and Civil Engineering at the Far Eastern University.

He is married to Rosario Soto Beltran with whom he had 11 children.

Ka Bel is a true peoples’ servant. As a congressman of the masses, he filed numerous bills advancing the people’s welfare. He is at the forefront of exposing government anomalies and corruptions. He is a vocal campaigner against foreign exploitation and domination. Because of his tireless and dedicated performance in the public service, he was awarded the Congressional Hall of Fame. He was chosen Most Outstanding Congressman for four consecutive years from 2002-2005. The Philippine Graphic Magazine recognized him as Filipino of the Year for 2002 for protecting consumers from the anti-people policies and abuses of electricity firms and by the Philippine Free Press as 2003 Filipino of the Year for advancing the interests of the working class.

Being a staunch critic of the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration, Ka Bel was illegally arrested on February 25, 2006 just after Arroyo desperately declared a state of emergency by elements of the Philippine National Police without even explaining to him the basis of his arrest. He was only presented after a few hours a photocopy of an alleged warrant for a rebellion case hurled against him by the Marcos Dictatorship which was dismissed 21 years ago. He was a political detainee during the Martial Law and was again one under the Arroyo administration for more than 15 months falsely charged for inciting to sedition from March 2006 to July 2007 through a hospital arrest at the Philippine Heart Center.

According to his daughter, Ofelia Beltran-Balleta, Ka Bel was about to file a bill scrapping the 12% reformed Value Added Tax (RVAT) which is the main cause of the sky rocketing of the price of oil and other petrol products. Ka Bel was among the principal authors

Ka Bel may be physically gone, but the Filipino masses especially the working class, will never forget his golden deeds and priceless contributions for the people’s welfare.

A simple salute is not enough but continuing his fight will be the better way to let live what he thought us.

LET US SALUTE OUR BELOVED CONGRESSMAN!
LET US CONTINUE THE FIGHT OF KA BEL!
ISULONG ANG PAKIKIBAKA NG MASANG ANAKPAWIS!
MAKIBAKA! HUWAG MATAKOT! #

Women’s Front: Goodbye to our modern-day hero, Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran

May 29, 2008

By INNABUYOG-GABRIELA

Today, we mourn the loss of a hero. Crispin Beltran, or “Ka Bel” as he was known by the Filipinos. He passed away on May 20, 2008, after a fatal fall while trying to prepare his house for the rainy season.

The Philippines was blessed by this living hero for many years. Pickets, dialogues, strikes and demonstrations were strengthened by his mere presence, his faith and courage. He battled many trials in his life as he to the yoke with the Filipino masses against oppression poverty, government corruption.

During his younger years, he was imprisoned with other militant leaders fighting against the Marcos dictatorship. Undaunted by the prison bars and illness, he continued through his wife, who delivered his words of solidarity to barricades and other mass meetings. Age and health did not stop him nor allowed the flame for democracy and equality to wane in his heart.

Ka Bel was a labor leader. He fought for just wages. He fought for the workers’ rights. He is the chairperson of the militant Kilusang Mayo Uno. He was the current representative of the partylist, Anakpawis. He devoted his life to pursuing people’s rights to land reform, job security, and human rights. Even as a lawmaker his statement of assets and liabilities was reported to be just a little over P27, 000 pesos, making him the poorest congressman. The manner of his death is a testimony to the simple life he lead though he was surrounded by corruption.

The Innabuyog-Gabriela and Gabriela Women’s Party is among the millions of lives he has touched and is forever grateful to the service, the leadership through the path to genuine democracy. He has provided us with the tools to rebuild our lives as we continue to destroy modern-day slavery in the country. He showed us the way to fight for our just rights. He helped build the pillars of this modern-day revolution. We, from Innabuyog will never forget his efforts and works

With Ka Osang, his wife and his children, the Innabuyog-Gabriela and Gabriela Women’s Party Filipino women, know that we will never be alone in this journey for a dignified life and the stand for the truth.

Ka Bel, your death is not the end of your legacy. You will forever remain in the hearts of the toiling masses. Your story shall be heard by children of generations to come, continuing to inspire and produce new revolutionaries. Your lessons are forever burned in the pages of our books. Your name is engraved in our revolution and your roar will forever resound in the battle against tyranny, poverty and corruption. And as you rest, know that the revolution you started will never lose its essence.

We love you, Ka Bel.
We will miss you!
Fight for Peace, Justice and Genuine Democracy! #

Activists, Artists Pay Tribute to Ka Bel Tonight

May 26, 2008

In a night of songs and poems, activists and leaders of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) will be joined by mainstream artists and groups tonight, May 26, in paying tribute to labor leader and former Bayan chair Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran at the Philippine Independent Church in Manila. Beltran, Bayan chair from 1993-1999, will be interred on Wednesday in Angat, Bulacan.

The tribute at the PIC Cathedral will be “a celebration of the life and struggles of Ka Bel and his contributions to the movement here and abroad”, according to organizers.

Among those who will render performances are Armida Siguion-Reyna who will sing the classic “Ikaw ang Mahal Ko”, and The Jerks front man Chikoy Pura who will sing Don Mclean’s “And I Love You So”. The two songs are said to be favorites of Beltran, which he often sung to his wife Rosario.

Director Joel Lamangan of the Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Pelikulang Pilipino (NMPP) will do a brief monologue on the circumstances of Beltran’s death. Folk singer Heber Bartolome will sing “Karaniwang Tao”, a song about a working man’s struggles and hopes.

Reggae band Brownman Revival will sing the Bob Marley classic “Redemption Song”. Folk singer Paul Galang will sing “Maong”, a song about a pair of faded jeans symbolic of the decades-old struggle waged by Ka Bel. Veterans of the First Quarter Storm meanwhile do a medley of 70’s marches including “Ang Masa” and “Makibaka, huwag matakot!”.

ZTE scandal witness Jun Lozada will read a poem by Jose Ma. Sison entitled “What Makes a Hero”. Others who will recite poems include Nanding Josef, Bibeth Orteza, Marily Ilagan and actor-politician Jeffrey Santos. Orteza will read a poem from Palanca-awardee Joi Barrios.

Activist leaders from various member organizations of Bayan will also give their tributes through songs. A chorale which included KMU chair Bong Labog, Anakpawis representative Rafael Mariano, Courage chair Ferdie Gaite, HEAD sec-gen Dr. Beng Rivera, AGHAM chair Dr. Gani Tapang, UP Prof. Judy Taguiwalo, Bayan sec-gen Renato Reyes, Jr and Bayan Muna sec-gen Nathaniel Santiago will sing “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa”.

A short video clip of Beltran will also be shown by Kodao productions.

International League of Peoples Struggle (ILPS) chair Jose Ma. Sison will give a recorded audio message extolling Beltran for his role in the international movement for change. Beltran was the first ILPS chair, elected in 2001. He is also the honorary chairman of the ILPS.

Expected to attend the tribute tonight are former Vice-president Teofisto Guingona, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, former DOTC secretary Josefina Lichauco, former partylist representative Joel Virador, Cuban ambassador Jorge Rey Jimenez, and Cuban charge d’affaires Manuel Perez Iturbe.

Ka Bel: the Man and his Principles

May 26, 2008

Family, friends and neighbors, colleagues, the media, and kasamas (comrades) are heaping praises on Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran; and rightfully so, for who can question the integrity and commitment to serve of a man who was true to being from the working class till the time of his death.

BY BENJIE OLIVEROS
ANALYSIS
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 16, May 25-31, 2008

Family, friends and neighbors, colleagues, the media, and kasamas (comrades) are heaping praises on Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran; and rightfully so, for who can question the integrity and commitment to serve of a man who was true to being from the working class till the time of his death.  He died undramatically – falling from the roof of his house – but not without symbolism.  For Ka Bel, in spite being a labor leader for decades and a member of Congress for three terms, died repairing the house that he bought with a loan.

The same cannot be said for many labor leaders who have enriched themselves at the expense of the class they have sworn to serve: becoming willing tools of capitalists and  even senators; and the comparison between Ka Bel and other members of Congress, except his colleagues from progressive party-list groups, is too obvious to explain.

His family said that he was a responsible partner to Ka Osang and a good father.  What can you say to a man who fought the Marcos dictatorship and all forms of injustices afterwards, stirred the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement), and was still able to do his share in taking care of their children?

His friends said that he always smiled and was warm to them.  Well, Ka Bel never forgot a person he had met even briefly and always took the effort to offer a firm and warm handshake to everybody – much unlike the hypocritical, vote-motivated handshake of many traditional politicians.

Ka Bel’s neighbors said that by living with them in an urban poor community, he showed that he is not corrupt.  His colleagues in Congress said that he was always sincere and represented the interest of the common man. And the media praised him for his integrity with the Philippine Daily Inquirer saying that, “it showed an astonished nation that it is possible to remain poor while serving in Congress, despite the trappings, the generous staffing budgets, the access to pork barrel funds.” The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) commended him for supporting the rights and welfare of journalists.

Amid the generous praises, what was missed out, except by Ka Bel’s kasamas, is that Ka Bel was the way he was not only because he was a good man – which undoubtedly he is – but because he lived his principles. In Ka Bel, the man and his principles are inseparable.

The Anakpawis party-list came up with the following list of Ka Bel’s activities from his younger years to his time as legislator.

Ka Bel was not yet in his teens when he volunteered to be a courier for Filipino guerillas fighting the Japanese occupation.  At 20 he joined a strike by his fellow taxi drivers.  He organized and became president of the Amalgamated Taxi Drivers Association from 1955-63.  Together with Felixberto “Ka Bert” Olalia, the “Grand Old Man of the Philippine Labor Movement,” and Feliciano Reyes, they formed the Confederation of Labor of the Philippines and became its vice president from 1962 -72.  He likewise helped form two other labor organizations, KASAMA and PACMAP. Even under the Marcos fascist dictatorship, Ka Bel helped form the Federation of Unions in Rizal and the Philippine Nationalist Labor Organization (PANALO) until KMU was founded in 1980 with Ka Bert as its first chairperson.

In 1982, the Marcos dictatorship conducted a crackdown against militant labor, raided the offices of KMU and NAFLU, and arrested Ka Bert and Ka Bel, among others.  Ka Bert who was 79 then did not survive the harsh prison conditions.  But Ka Bel escaped prison in 1984 and continued organizing peasants and workers in the countryside.  He returned to Metro Manila and assumed the presidency of KMU in 1987 when Rolando “Ka Lando” Olalia was brutally murdered during the Aquino administration. Concurrent with his holding of the helm of KMU, Ka Bel was also the president of the Alliance of Nationalist and Genuine Labor Organizations.

Ka Bel was the chairperson of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) from 1993-1999. He was also the chairperson of the International League for People’s Struggles, an international anti-imperialist alliance, in 2002.

He served as vice chairperson and one of the three representatives of Bayan Muna from 2001-2003. In 2004, Ka Bel became a representative of Anakpawis party-list.

Ka Bel was a leader of the working class and he was instrumental in the formation of militant labor organizations and in leading workers’ struggles. He was a patriot and, throughout his life, he was active in the struggle against all forms of foreign domination, from the Japanese occupation to imperialist globalization. Ka Bel believed in social emancipation and he has consistently fought for the rights and interests of the oppressed and exploited classes and sectors in different arena: in factories, in rural areas, in the streets, and in the halls of Congress.

Ka Bel exemplified the tenacity and steadfastness of a man who is firm in his principles; the organization and discipline of the worker; and the humanity and selflessness of one who is genuinely committed to serve the people. To sum it up, Ka Bel is a true revolutionary from the working class.  Bulatlat

Crispin Beltran: Most Outstanding Legislator

May 26, 2008

In session, Beltran stood tall and dignified among many, untainted by the corruption that soiled many multimillionaire-congressmen’s seats.

BY THE CENTER FOR PEOPLE EMPOWERMENT IN GOVERNANCE
ANALYSIS
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 16, May 25-31, 2008

As the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) prepares its assessment of the first 10 years of the Party-list system this year, we deemed it apt to devote this issue analysis to the life and struggles of Crispin Bertiz Beltran, first nominee of the Party-list group Anakpawis. Beltran, a charismatic labor leader who died in a fatal accident last May 20 in Bulacan, was a central figure in the Party-list system – defending it from subversion by the powers-that-be yet tirelessly asserting the people’s right to democratic representation in governance.

Crispin Beltran is an exemplary product of his times. Trained in genuine unionism, steeled in the parliament of the streets, and more defiant after Marcos imprisonment, he brought new politics in Congress. Through it all he remained at the forefront of the workers’ struggle – and that struggle has produced a hero.

Beltran, known to many Filipinos as Ka (short for kasama or comrade) Bel, was adjudged Most Consistent Outstanding Congressman from 2002-2005 and was elevated to the Congressional Hall of Fame by the Congress Magazine in 2006. He filed the most number of bills in the 13th Congress among the Party-list representatives and would have achieved the same record in the present one had he not met a fatal accident on May 20. The Philippine press and the whole nation – ruled by a government seen as one of the most corrupt in the world – were astounded to find that he died a poor man and had maintained an even frugal life.

But why was Beltran tagged and imprisoned as an “enemy of the state” by two Presidents – Ferdinand Marcos in the 1980s and, for a year-and-a-half, by Gloria M. Arroyo? What kind of politics did he wage that provoked state authorities to believe that by neutralizing him – either by arrest or physical harm (he had faced countless attempts on his life) – they would put an end to his ideology as well?

Humble beginnings

Born of humble beginnings in Bikol in 1933, Beltran’s life had been etched by struggles whether as a young guerilla courier fighting the Japanese imperial occupation or as a farm worker, office sweeper, gasoline attendant, messenger, bus driver and later, as a cab driver to support his education. His legacy as one of the country’s outstanding labor leaders traces its roots to when, at age 20, he joined fellow drivers in a strike. From thereon, there was no looking back. He either helped organize or served as leader of pioneering labor organizations, the last as chair of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) in 1987 following the abduction and brutal murder of Rolando Olalia and his driver by military operatives. Three years earlier, he escaped Marcos torture and imprisonment and went to the countryside to organize workers and farm laborers.

For Beltran, working alongside the country’s proletariat did not only mean going on strikes for bread and butter or facing company executives in tough wage negotiations. The years spent in labor leadership also produced hard-fought lessons in ideological skirmishes with “yellow” or compromising trade unionism and also linking up with organizations of farmers, youth-students, urban poor and other sectors in a nationwide cause-oriented movement. It meant taking up the cudgels of the poor through peaceful but militant engagement with state authorities in denouncing oppressive policies while advocating for genuine social, economic and political reform. He knew that any picket or street protest would be met by police truncheons, water cannons, or even bullets but Beltran never for a second vacillated in the frontline of the struggle, as colleagues in the street parliament would narrate.

Known for his solid pro-people leadership in the labor movement, Beltran was invited to join the senatorial slate of the Partido ng Bayan (PnB or people’s party) in the 1987 elections – the first to be held after 14 years of Marcos dictatorship. Reminiscent of the fate suffered by the Democratic Alliance (DA) whose six representatives elected in the 1946 elections were unseated for opposing onerous economic and military agreements with the United States, the PnB came out badly bruised from the polls with many of its volunteers killed and most of its candidates for Congress and local positions victims of fraud.

Beltran and the Party-list organizations that he represented (Bayan Muna and, later, Anakpawis) garnered significant seats in elections for the House, with BM topping both the 2001 and 2004 polls. House records show that the labor leader championed the issues of the poor in privilege speeches as well as by filing bills and resolutions on their behalf. The speeches, bills and resolutions penned by Beltran, among others, called for investigations of violations of the rights of workers, farm laborers, urban poor, migrant workers, consumers, GSIS members as well as public employees and victims of human rights violations. He was most vehement in opposing the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Arroyo’s support to the U.S. war on terror and the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Vindictive Arroyo

These initiatives inevitably antagonized government agencies, big industrial and agricultural corporations, energy companies, and military authorities. Consequently, the congressman earned the vindictive ire of Mrs. Arroyo as she watched her centerpiece policies and bills sponsored subjected to condemnation one after the other by the labor leader – together with Party mates and other legislators – inside and outside the halls of Congress. Co-authoring three impeachment initiatives and denunciations against scams linking the Arroyo couple also cost Beltran’s office access to the countrywide development fund (CDF), among others.

The denial of CDF became part of what the progressive Party-list bloc denounced as a systematic campaign to unseat them from the House through demonization, election fraud, and the use of physical violence. The campaign was integral to a national security doctrine that seeks to neutralize the underground Left’s alleged political infrastructures resulting in a series of summary executions and forced disappearances. Beltran was picked up and jailed by Arroyo authorities in February 2006 in a crackdown mounted by the President’s attack dogs against the progressive bloc. After nearly two years in detention, he was set free by the Supreme Court which dismissed the trumped-up charges. By then, however, Beltran had physically weakened – a result of harassment, threats, and stress he suffered under a government that considered him “a threat to national security” and only because, as workers in the labor movement said, he stood by his principles and refused to be cowed by Malacañang through bribery and other pressures.

The last public performance that he did was when as a minority member of the House energy committee he spoke against attempts by the President to place Meralco in the hands of her business cronies in the guise of state nationalization. Before that, he filed a bill calling for a genuine agrarian reform program in place of CARP which for two decades he had denounced as a hoax. Just like the P125 legislated wage increase that Beltran and the militant labor groups had been asking for nearly 10 years, the genuine agrarian reform measure that the progressive legislator filed will be shot down by Congress’ dominant conservative members and Arroyo allies. Ever a leading figure in major rallies even while he was already in Congress, Beltran delivered what turned out to be his valedictory – wearing a white T-shirt and a red cap together with co-workers at the May 1 rally in Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila.

Tributes

In a tribute to the fallen labor leader, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano said Beltran is probably among the few members of Congress deserving of the title “Honorable.” People who visited him while in detention to lend moral support left being inspired instead, a fellow activist leader recalls. Down with ailment, he still took pains serving food or coffee, a former KMU public information writer also says. “Don’t deprive me of my wanting to serve you – no matter how small it is – if that’s the only way I’ll be of service,” Beltran told him, quoting Golda Meir.

There are at least two lessons that can be drawn from the legacy left by Beltran.

One is that his participation in the Party-list system led to the infusion of new politics in an elite-dominated Congress and with it a sterling record of legislative work for social and economic reform for the poor. A member of the legislature once noted that the entry of the progressive Party-list bloc into Congress gave the body the meaningful role that it never had. In session, Beltran stood tall and dignified among many, untainted by the corruption that soiled many multimillionaire-congressmen’s seats. But the political repression that Beltran and his colleagues endured – and continues to endure – all the more unmasks not only the state’s subversion of the Party-list program that aims to represent the poor in policy making but also the continuing dominance of elitist politics that denies the poor a role in governance participation.

Beltran is vindicated for devoting his life to labor militancy alongside other marginalized classes – building power from the bowels of poverty and injustice – from where people’s governance will rise. The labor and legislative record of Beltran proves that the breed of people’s leaders is bound to increase – as it now appears – and that elitist rule will be a thing of the past. And that is the second lesson. Posted by Bulatlat

Workers declare May 28 as National Day of mourning and protests; Anakpawis to give Ka Bel a hero’s burial

May 25, 2008

NEWS RELEASE
May 24, 2008

Public invited to join funeral march and protests
Workers declare May 28 as National Day of mourning and protests;
Anakpawis to give Ka Bel a hero’s burial

“People from all walks of life mourn the death of our beloved Ka Bel
and many extol his exemplary life and works as a genuine leader of the
masses. He devoted more than six decades of his life for the cause of
workers, peasants and the poor. It is natural to treat him as a hero
and a martyr deserving of highest honors and salute. Ka Bel is worthy
of a hero’s burial, we will give him that tribute,’ said Anakpawis
Secretary General Cherry Clemente in a press conference as Kilusang
Mayo Uno and Anakpawis declares May 28 as National Day of Mourning and
Protest.

“Aside from the grand funeral march on May 28, chapters of Anakpawis
as well as Ka Bel’s supporters in the local and international people’s
movement will hold local tributes and protest actions demanding the
ouster of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, ” said Anakpawis Partylist
Spokesperson Joel Maglunsod,

Hero’s burial

“We are inviting the public to visit Ka Bel and join the funeral march
and protests on May 28. His 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
against the oppressive and corrupt government that Ka Bel fought for
his entire life. The most valuable tribute that we can give Ka Bel is
to continue the national fight to oust the US-Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
regime.” Clemente said.

Ka Bel’s remains were flown to Legaspi City via PAL early this
morning. From the city airport, about 1000 members of Anakpawis and
Kilusang Mayo Uno Bicol welcomed him. A mass was held at the
Redemptorist Church followed by a motorcade to the Big Dome Gymnasium
Central Bacacay, Albay where the late labor leader and Congressman
will lie in state until tomorrow, May 25.

Clemente said that prior to Ka Bel’s demise, his original schedule
included a trip to Bicol to attend the regional conference of labor
groups there and a short vacation with his daughter Ofelia and her
family in his hometown in Bacacay. “His colleagues at Anakpawis and
the Beltran family ensured that Ka Bel’s last wish is granted.”

By Monday, Ka Bel and his family will return to Manila for two more
days and nights of wake and tributes at the IFI Cathedral before he
lies to rest at the Angel of Meadows Memorial and Nature Park in
Angat, Bulacan on Wednesday, May 28.

Those who cannot join the protest and marches on Wednesday are
encouraged to make symbolic actions in their own little ways. They can
wear or hang red and black ribbons as a sign of sympathy and tribute
to Ka Bel’s heroic life,” Clemente said.

People’s representative in Congress

“Sectors and ordinary people who are resting their hopes on Ka Bel and
his struggle for reforms within the legislative system will not be
totally orphaned. Ka Rafael Mariano will immediately take his seat as
Anakpawis Representative in the Lower House and will continue what Ka
Bel has started in the 14th Congress. Like Ka Bel, Ka Paeng will
continue to fight within and outside the legislative system.”

Anakpawis Partylist is waiting for the resolution to be issued by the
COMELEC En Banc meeting appointing Mariano as the next Anakpawis
representative. “We are also hastening Ka Paeng’s oath taking so he
can represent Anakpawis in the final deliberations and plenary voting
on the extension of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program which we are
opposing, along with other farmer groups advocating for genuine land
reform. ###

References: Cherry Clemente, Secretary General, 0921-7283859
Mau Hermitanio, Public Info Officer, 0926-4469017

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

May 25, 2008

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.

It started in a taxi for the Beltrans

May 25, 2008

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:53:00 05/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines—The love affair of Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran and Rosario “Ka Osang” Soto began in the unlikeliest place—a taxicab.

It was Nov. 10, 1956. The then 15-year-old Osang had run away from home in Tondo after a spat with her grandmother over cutting classes and, in front of Quiapo Church in Manila, got into the cab driven by Beltran.

Distraught, she told Beltran to just drive on. When they reached Monumento in Caloocan, he stopped the cab and demanded to know exactly where she was going.

So she told him what happened.

“He lectured me. He told me I was so young and yet had the audacity to run away from home. He said, ‘You were spanked by your mother, and you ran away,’” Ka Osang, now 68, recalled.

Beltran, then 26, offered to drive her home. But she protested and tried to get off.
Seeing that night had fallen, he stopped her and decided to take her to his boarding house in San Juan.

3 days in his room

The story of how the long romance began is told in a profile of Beltran posted on the website of the militant labor alliance Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).

Osang stayed in Beltran’s room for three days, sleeping separately from him. She was alone most of the time because he was a cabbie by day and a student by night, attending classes at the University of the Philippines’ Asian Labor Education Center.

In time her furious father showed up at the boarding house, beat up Beltran in front of her, and hauled him off to the San Juan municipal jail.

Eventually, they had to get married, lest the young woman end up disgraced.

“There was no love then. I was totally against it. I didn’t like him. But he, on the other hand, was open-minded. He said that love was something we could both learn,” Ka Osang said in an interview with KMU.

And it didn’t take long for her to “love” Beltran, who, she said, was a “good provider” and a gentle husband.

The couple had 10 (not 11, as earlier reported) children.

Jealousy

The young wife also learned to admire her husband for organizing unions in the slums of Metro Manila and elsewhere—an advocacy that often took him away from his family.

In his early 20s, Beltran was a full-fledged labor leader. He was president of the Yellow Taxi Drivers’ Union and the Amalgamated Taxi Drivers Federation from 1955 to 1963, according to KMU.

He went on to serve as vice administrator of the Confederation of Labor Unions of the Philippines and vice president of the Philippine Alliance of Nationalist Organizations from 1963 to 1972.

“At first I was jealous [of the movement]. I would expect him to come home every night. But since he organized workers in slums, the urban poor, and conducted seminars on workers’ rights, there were times he didn’t come home,” Ka Osang told the Inquirer on the phone.

“Now I see how the seed he planted has flowered,” she said.

Tough test

Through the years, she gave the man who had come to be known as Ka Bel her full support.

The tough test came in August 1982 when the minions of the Marcos dictatorship cracked down on Beltran and other labor leaders.

“We already had 10 children when he was arrested. We had no money, and my children lived on my small earnings from selling rubber slippers and fish in the market,” Ka Osang told KMU.

Beltran was then KMU secretary general, and he and his family lived in a slum community in Barangay Commonwealth, Quezon City.

In the two years that her husband was detained at Camp Crame in Quezon City, Ka Osang made up for his absence, delivering speeches at rallies in his behalf and, eventually, doing volunteer work at the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, according to KMU.

And together with the wives, daughters and relatives of political detainees, she sought their release. But Ferdinand Marcos did not budge.

Daring escape

When KMU president Felixberto Olalia died of pneumonia in his detention cell in 1984, Ka Osang worried about her husband who was then afflicted with a kidney ailment.

She visited him, armed with an escape plan.

Beltran was allowed a brief leave to attend a nephew’s birthday celebration—naturally, with military escorts. According to their escape plan, he went to the men’s room supposedly to relieve himself, and managed to flee through a hole in the wall.

For the daring escape of her husband—considered an enemy of the state—Ka Osang endured blows, punches and kicks from his escorts.

Beltran went into hiding in Central Luzon, and was given shelter by insurgents.

The couple were reunited after Marcos was ousted in 1986 and President Corazon Aquino ordered the release of all political prisoners.

Beltran continued his advocacy in mainstream society. He joined the party-list elections as a second nominee of Bayan Muna in 2001 and won a seat in the House of Representatives.

He won a second term in 2004 and a third term in 2007 as Anakpawis representative.

Members of his family thought that his election as lawmaker would improve their lot. But they were proved wrong.

“He was the type who gave away to others anything in excess of his pay. That was what he imparted to his children,” Ka Osang said.

Sedition, rebellion

An even tougher test for the family came in February 2006, when Beltran was arrested on the strength of a warrant for a 1985 sedition case.

When this did not hold, the police still detained him at the Philippine Heart Center for one-and-a-half years for a rebellion case. (The couple marked their 50th anniversary with a Mass at the hospital.)

The Supreme Court dismissed the case against Beltran and five other party-list lawmakers in June 2007. He was freed the following month.

Early on May 20, Ka Osang saw her husband repairing the roof of their home in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.

“I was going out to pay our electricity bill, and saw him fixing our roof. I told him to come down and eat first, because he might get dizzy and fall. He just laughed,” she said.

As it happened, Beltran fell and sustained grave head injuries.

Gratitude

After he breathed his last at the Far Eastern University hospital in Fairview, Quezon City, Ka Osang embraced him and thanked him.

“I wanted to show him I was thankful. He might think that we never took to heart everything that he did for us. Despite our poverty, all of our children went to college,” she said.

Ka Bel Icon

May 25, 2008

Ka Bel: Taas-Kamaong Pagpupugay

May 24, 2008

Ang bagong tala sa kasaysayan ng kilusang paggawa.

From Firebrand to Torchbearer: A Tribute to Ka Bel

May 24, 2008

By Nene Pimentel

As a young man growing up in Cagayan de Oro in the 50s and the 60s, I hardly knew Crispin Beltran. I did read of him now and then in a Manila daily that we got in Cagayan de Oro which at the time was at least three hours by propeller planes and at least three days by boat from Manila.

Trouble maker

By the standards of a community that did not want its comfort zone disturbed, Ka Bel was made to look like a born trouble maker who, the capitalists in Manila, would have wanted eliminated.

I was, even, then, amazed that such a man could keep on doing what he believed was the right thing to do and that was to fight for the rights of underprivileged no matter what the cost.

Paths crossing

In the early ‘70s when I was doing my duties as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention representing my province of Misamis Oriental, now then and then our paths would cross in forums and in demonstrations against the inequalities of Philippine society. But even then I hardly knew Ka Bel. He was already a veteran of street marches and I was a neophyte trudging along with marchers now and then without knowing fully what it was we were marching for.

Then in 1972, Marcos declared martial law. I did not know what happened to Ka Bel. I learned later that a few years after the declaration, he arrested upon complaint of big business whose cozy relationship with Marcos was being upset by his labor activism. Apparently, he escaped a year or two after his arrest and continued the fight against the Marcos dictatorship underground.

I had my own troubles with the martial law regime and bouts with illegal arrests and detentions. Thus, I lost track of the whereabouts of Ka Bel.

In limelight again

But after we finally succeeded in ousting Marcos in 1986 in the wake of People Power I that Cory Aquino and Cardinal Sin led, Ka Bel was again in the limelight of the struggle against oppression of the laboring masses and sometimes he tangled physically with the police and military officers who, more often than not, sided with the capitalists who invariably wanted to suppress even their peaceful demonstrations for the redress of their grievances.

Bayan Muna

Then when the party list system was finally implemented, Ka Bel was one of those who ran for and got elected in 2001 to the House of Representatives representing Bayan Muna.

At the House, Ka Bel fiercely demonstrated his independence by espousing causes like anti-globalization positions that were not exactly to the liking of the coalition of traditional parties that governed the House.

Anak Pawis

At the next elections, Ka Bel ran again as a party list representative but this time under the banner of the Party List group, Anak Pawis. Once more, the people voted him to the House.

As an Anak Pawis representative to the House, Ka Bel was a source of embarrassment to those who trudged the easy path to power, pelf and fame. For instance, it was he who exposed bribery attempts by administration partisans to abort the impeachment resolutions against Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

It was in this capacity as a no-nonsense leader of Anak Pawis in the House that fate decreed that Ka Bel would now leave us and go to his everlasting rest.

Deserved rest

He deserves that rest. In his life, Ka Bel had apparently never been at rest.

In his youth he had to scrap the bottom of the barrel as it were to keep alive. He worked as janitor, a messenger, a taxi driver and many other odds jobs.

In his manhood, he had to fight for his rights and the rights of his fellow workers, to keep his dignity. He is credited with having organized the Confederation of Labor of the Philippines and helped found the Philippine Workers Congress. During the martial law years, he was associated with the KMU, a militant labor organization.

Transition

And in the twilight of his life, he made that smooth transition from being a firebrand – who in the minds of the conservators of the status quo meant being an arsonist who would burn anything which stood on the way to liberating his fellow workers to a torch bearer who in the minds of all well meaning citizens meant illuminating the path of those who search for the better life in a democratic and peaceful manner.

That is a most difficult thing to do. Not too many men could do it but Ka Bel certainly did it.

Not only that. He did it with finesse and with verve and vigor unmatchable by ordinary mortals. And he kept his nose clean even as he fought his parliamentary battles in the putrid environment of transactional politics.

Sui generis

Ka Bel could have been bought by the interests of the rich and the establishment. He could have succumbed to threats of the mighty and the powerful.

But he resisted all that. And that by itself is sufficient to say that Ka Bel was a sui generis kind of man. A man alone. A man in the mold of heroes.

His life puts to shame many of our brethren in politics and in religion who claim to love and serve the poor.

His word, his bond

Even his widow with whom he had 11 children says that Ka Bel was a man worthy of his word as a married man and as a father. Not too many politicians deserve that accolade from their spouses.

Of Ka Bel, it can truly be said that he was of the poor, stood by the poor and was for the poor.

I can say a thousand more words about Ka Bel but they won’t add any thing substantial to our tribute to him. Let me, then, just address these few last lines to Ka Bel: You are a martyr to the cause of the poor. You belong to them and only they can rightfully claim you as their very own.

God speed Ka Bel and may you enjoy the rest that you never had in this world but may the example of your life now as torchbearer give faith to our people that all is not lost in this coutry and that there is hope for the better as your life has shown.

LFS pays tribute to Ka Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran

May 24, 2008

The League of Filipino Students (LFS) and its chapters nationwide pays
its highest tribute to Rep. Crispin Beltran, a great revolutionary
leader, a man who constantly and tirelessly devoted his life for the
interests of the working masses, especially the poor.

We salute Ka Bel for his lifelong dedication to upholding the national
democratic aspirations of the oppressed people. We especially look up
to him for remaining firm and courageous despite the constant
harassment and fascist acts of violence imposed upon his person by the
enemies of the Filipino people.

We remember Ka Bel for his simplicity and humility. His life and
person embodied the activist principle: simpleng pamumuhay, puspusang
pakikibaka. While being a Congressman, he rejected the corrupt
practices in government and exposed the rottenness of traditional
politics. Unlike the Arroyo’s, their minions and yellow trade union
leaders, Ka Bel never used position for personal ends, and always
represented the voice of the working class and the poor.

There is no reason for the enemies of the people to celebrate with the
passing away of Ka Bel, as he left the Filipino people an example of
genuine leadership, activism and struggle in the face of exploitation
and state terror. Ka Bel showed the people that it was possible to
attain victories in the struggle if the Filipino people unites in the
assertion of their rights.

Ka Bel taught us that another society, a society free from
exploitation, free from abuse, is possible, and that the struggle for
which is the path that the Filipino people must take.

Ka Bel’s heroism will serve as inspiration to the Filipino youth and
students to continue and intensify the struggle against the fascist
and anti-people Arroyo regime. We will make sure that his relentless
fighting spirit will continue haunt this government through bigger
mass protests.

We are calling on LFS members, students and young people nationwide to
hold protest actions, tribute meetings and to prepare for student
walk-outs in the first days of school. We must continue the heroism of
Ka Bel and intensify the national democratic struggle.

Ipagpatuloy ang kabayanihan ni Ka Bel!
Mabuhay ang Pambansa-Demokratikong Pakikibaka!

Visit the NEW LFS WEBSITE: http://www.lfs.ph

Bakit Tumaas ang Presyon ng Dugo ni Ka Bel

May 24, 2008

“Nananawagan ako sa mamamayang Pilipino na labanan ang pahirap na diktadurya ni Gng. Arroyo. Ako ay nagsisikap na makalaya sa ilegal na pagkakakulong na ito, para makasama kayo sa mga laban sa loob at labas ng Kongreso.”
– Rep. Crispin Beltran,
bago siya ipasok sa Camp Crame
para sa inquest ng kasong rebelyon.

Si Ka Bel,
kilala ng marami – lalo na
ng mga manggagawa, magsasaka’t
mga maralitang taga-lungsod –
ay walang habas na dinakip
at ipiniit sa paratang na
nagpapasiklab ng rebolusyon.

(Sa utos ng Presidenteng baligtad
ang pagkakilala sa kalayaan at demokrasya).

Sa pinakahuling balita,
tumaas daw ang presyon ng dugo ni Ka Bel,
hindi sa sindak o ligalig –
(sa pitumpung taon nang walang lubay
na pakikibaka’y tinakasan na yata siya ng takot)
kundi sa galit:

kasalanan ba ang ipaglaban
ang karapatan sa makatwirang sahod?
Ang paglaban para sa mga nagbubungkal ng lupa
at pagtutol sa demolisyon?

Ay! Palalong pinuno.
Sagot sa kahirapa’y buwis
sa hinaing ay bala
at sinumang maghayag ng katotohanan
ay walang salang bubusalan sa bibig.

Ano’ng kabalintunaan?
Ikinukulong ang nagtatanggol sa mamamayan.
At pinapaslang ang humihiyaw ng katarungan.

Sa loob ng piitan
si Ka Bel ay nagngingitngit,
hindi pinanghihinaan ng loob.
Igapos o ikulong man,
walang magawa ang Estado
sa patuloy na pagtakas
ng kanyang galit
sa mga taong sanhi ng pagkaduhagi
ng minamahal niyang kauri.

Soliman Agulto Santos
3 Marso 2006

KA BEL (A poem by Bienvenido Lumbera)

May 24, 2008

Ang lider ay isang sangkap lamang ng tagumpay,
Ang masa ang siyang tunay na mapagpasiya.
Maraming beses na nating sinabi sa kanila,
Subalit makunat talaga ang kanilang utak,
Ayaw nang talaban ng ating katotohanan.
Iligpit ang lider at tuluyang mawawasak
Ang rebolusyong binabalak, iyan lamang
Ang kaya nilang paniwalaan.

Ulianin ang katarungang atas ng Malakanyang,
Dinaklot ng batas na walang kinamuwangan
Ang lider ng Anakpawis, di-umano’y imbitasyong lang,
Proklamasyon 1017 ang mahigpit na dahilan.
Nang maikandado ang seldang kulungan,
Inakala nilang nalumpo na ang himagsikan,
Kaliweteng party-list di na makagagalaw.

Subalit ang mga manggagawa, lahat ng anakpawis
Na walang pangalan sa mga pabrika at lansangan,
Ang mga pagtutol na isinisigaw, ang pagkakabigkis
Lalong tumitibay—Palayain si Crispin Beltran!
Ang masa, ang masa, pag nabuksan ang isipan,
Uugit ng landas tungo sa kalayaan.
Diwa ni Ka Bel di kayang ihiwalay ng rehas na bakal
Sa sambayang kanyang pinaglingkuran,
Naging sinag ng araw na tumimo sa kamalayan,
At ngayo’y liwanag na nagpupumiglas
Sa dilim at dagim na isinasabog ng Malakanyang.
Loob nati’y tibayan, likumin ang kaliwanagan,
Bukang-liwayway ng ating paglaya’y
Hinding-hindi na mapipigilan!

BIEN LUMBERA
Binigkas sa ika-50 anibersaryo ng kasal

HUWAG MONG ISIPING ANG IYONG PAGYAO’Y DI PAGLISAN NG ISANG BAYANI

May 24, 2008

Alexander Martin Remollino

Sa alaala ni Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran,
lider-manggagawa, 1933-2008

Maramot sa liwanag ang araw
at siya’y nagtatago sa likod ng mga abuhing ulap
nang ikaw ay iwan ng huli mong hininga.

Hindi ka nasawi sa larangan,
di-gaya ng siya mong nais.
Ngunit huwag mo sanang isiping ang iyong pagyao
ay hindi paglisan ng isang bayani,
sapagkat hanggang sa huli mong hininga,
may ligtas na pahingahan sa iyong puso’t isip
silang nagpapagal
upang bigyan ang bansa’t ang buong daigdig
ng bubong na masisilungan, kalasag
laban sa dahas ng unos at lupit ng araw.
Hanggang sa kahuli-hulihang sandali,
ang bawat tibok ng iyong puso ay laan
sa kanilang nagbabaon ng mga pako sa kahoy at kongkreto
upang itindig sa lupa ang mga tahanan.

Ikaw ay bayani,
kaya’t nauukol na mabuhay nang walang hanggan
sa pambansang alaala
upang maging tanglaw sa umagang makulimlim
at sa gabing walang buwan at bituin.

CONTEND STATEMENT ON THE DEATH OF KA BEL

May 24, 2008

Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracty (CONTEND) STATEMENT ON THE DEATH OF KA BEL
MAY 22, 2008

REPRESENT!

The life of Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran is one of the last great exemplars of a generation who lived through the period of colonialism and neo-colonialism in Philippine society. His life story starkly sums up an historical moment of our nation’s struggle against the violence of foreign domination reinforced by the ruthless collaboration of a few ruling elites. While the oppressors committed themselves to barbarism in order to force history to their side by pulling it backwards, Ka Bel marched forward with the laboring people; and with dignity that was irrefutably his.

Ka Bel knew how to fight and whom to do it for. As a teenager, he must have realized the terrifying whims of colonialism. And so in his youth, he fought against Japanese occupation by serving as courier for the Filipino guerillas. In his ripe age, we bear witness to his unwavering struggle against a brutal regime that is the Arroyo administration and to his resolute resistance against the deadly horrors of neoliberal globalization.

All throughout his life, Ka Bel upheld the dignity of labor. For quite a while, mainstream media have bombarded its audience with that all too familiar rags to riches accounts of those who have “made it.” But with Ka Bel’s death, we are made aware of some of the humbling details of this man’s life as a janitor, a jeepney driver, a taxi driver, a staunch opponent of Martial Law, a political prisoner, a labor leader and a Partylist representative of peasants, workers and the toiling masses.

He is, indeed, a working class hero. But not because he died a poor man. That poor people die everyday in even worse circumstances on account of a system which Ka Bel sought to transform; that this same person saw through the treacherous appearance of legality and thus forged the strongest solidarity with thousands upon thousands of Filipino masses under the banner of national democracy; and that he left us with a legacy that wards off the impostures of tyrants–these are the hallmarks of a heroic life.

And in his death, what he has bequeathed to us, educators, is a memory of a singular presence: the authenticity of his life as a subjective force, one that from now on will play a significant determinant of political action from among our ranks.

Our Ka Bel, knew how to live, he knew how to fight, he knew how to truly represent.

Ipagpatuloy ang Laban ni Ka Bel!
Mabuhay ang Uring Manggagawa!
Isulong ang Pakikibaka para sa Pambansang Demokrasya tungo sa Sosyalismo!

Joma Sison on Ka Bel: A Patriot, an Internationalist

May 24, 2008

CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILY AND ALL COMRADES
OF OUR BELOVED CRISPIN ‘KA BEL’ BELTRAN

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
May 21, 2008

On behalf of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) and all participating organizations of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS)), I wish to convey most heartfelt condolences to the family and all comrades of our beloved Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, the first ICC chairperson and honorary chairperson of the ILPS.

We are deeply saddened by the passing away of Ka Bel. We share the grief of the working class and oppressed peoples of the Philippines and the world. But we are consoled and inspired by his great achievements as a labor leader, as a patriot in the service of the Filipino people and as an internationalist fighting for the accomplishment of the historic mission of the working class and the national and social liberation of all oppressed peoples.

Ka Bel brought into the ILPS and the anti-imperialist and democratic movement of the people of the world the great benefits and high prestige of his statesmanship, his accomplishments as leader of the working class and the people, his fearless dedication to their revolutionary cause and incessant struggle against monopoly capitalism and all reaction.

Ka Bel was an outstanding fighter for national liberation and democracy for over fifty years, up to the time that he held his last positions as chairman of the Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) party list and as member of the Philippine House of Congress. He excelled in defending the national and democratic rights and interests of the workers, peasants, urban poor and other exploited people and in fighting the US-imposed policy of neoliberal globalization and the US-instigated global war of terror.

At a very early age, Ka Bel volunteered as a courier for the guerillas against the Japanese occupation during World War II. Subsequently, he
became a farm worker and took odd jobs to support his studies. He became a gasoline boy, messenger, bus driver and taxi driver. At the age of 20, he and his fellow drivers conducted a strike against
unfair labor practices. The police brutally attacked their picket line, injuring many and killing three protesting workers. Thereafter, Ka
Bel dedicated his life to the working class movement.

Ka Bel became president of the Yellow Taxi Drivers’ Union. He further organized the Amalgamated Taxi Drivers Association and became its President from 1955 to 1963. Together with Felixberto ‘Ka Bert’ Olalia, Feliciano Reyes and Cesar Lacarra, veterans in the militant tradition of the Philippine labor movement, he organized the Confederation of Labor
Unions of the Philippines (CLP) and became its Vice-President from 1963 to 1972. He also participated in the formation of the Philippine Workers Congress and such other labor organizations as KASAMA and PACMAP, which defied Marcos’ preparations for and unleashing of martial law.

During the Marcos fascist dictatorship, Ka Bel had a major role in establishing the Federation of Unions in Rizal and the Philippine Nationalist Labor Organization (PANALO), which became the Alliance of Nationalist Genuine Labor Organizations (ANGLO). These helped prepare the ground for the founding of Kilusang Mayo Uno in 1980. From an initial 100,000,the KMU increased its membership to half a million in the 1980s. The KMU united and strengthened the working class and the entire people in the fight against the Marcos fascist dictatorship.

When Marcos tried to suppress the KMU and the resurgent trade union movement in August 1982, Ka Bel was one of the leaders who were arrested and detained. In November 1984, he escaped from prison, went to the countryside and organized workers and peasants from the underground. He was a brilliant heroic model of defiance and resistance to the Marcos fascist dictatorship.

After the fall of Marcos in 1986, he surfaced from the underground and became active once more in the KMU. Together with other mass leaders, we formed the Partido ng Bayan. After Rolando “Ka Lando” Olalia was brutally murdered in 1987, Ka Bel assumed the presidency of KMU. He ran for senator under the banner of Partido ng Bayan. But his candidacy was frustrated by a campaign of electoral fraud and terrorism unleashed by the reactionaries to disable and destroy the Partido ng Bayan.

Ka Bel stayed on as president of the KMU until March 2003.

He also served as a member of the National Council of the multi-sectoral alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) in 1985 and became its national chairperson from 1993 to 1999. From 2001 to 2003, he was Vice President of the Bayan Muna (People First) Party List and served the first of his three terms as member of the Philippine House of Representatives. In 2004 and 2007, he was elected as the representative under the Anakpawis Partylist.

In Congress, Ka Bel excelled in sponsoring bills characterized by a high sense of patriotism and advocacy of the rights and welfare of the oppressed and exploited people. He was commended by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism for filing the most number of bills and
resolutions and for a nearly perfect attendance until his arrest in February 2006.

His three terms in the House of Representatives resulted in his recognition as Filipino of the Year and Most Outstanding Congressman
for four consecutive years from 2002 to 2005. In 2006, was honored as part of the Congressional Hall of Fame.

For being a steadfast fighter in the interest of the toiling masses and for being an incorruptible public official, Ka Bel together with other progressive members of Congress earned the ire of the Arroyo regime and became the target of persecution through false charges. He was illegally arrested and detained for one year and a half. I had the honor of being a co-accused of Ka Bel in a false charge of rebellion, which was ultimately nullified by the Philippine Supreme Court.

Until his death, the Arroyo regime persisted in persecuting him with the false charge of inciting to sedition case. Under the baton of the regime, the Metropolitan Court of Quezon City refused to dismiss the charge despite its flagrant falsity and illegality. He continued to be the target of relentless efforts of the regime to imprison him, destroy the progressive partylists and remove their representatives in Congress. Persecution through the trumping up of false charges has become a major form of human rights violation in the Philippines and has extended even to The Netherlands in the persecution of Filipinos opposing the Arroyo regime.

Ka Bel has won a place of glory in the history of the working class and people for upholding, defending and advancing their rights, interests and aspirations for a new and better world of greater freedom, democracy, social justice, development and peace against imperialism and all reaction. Ka Bel will always live in our hearts and minds. His legacy of fighting for national and social liberation will always inspire the people in the current and further generations.

Ka Bel was slated to speak on neoliberal globalization and labor before the plenary session of the Third International Assembly of the ILPS in Hong Kong on June 18, 2008. We shall miss him and hear others on the topic. But his spirit shall be present and shall move all of us. The ILPS vows to perpetuate and avail of his legacy of revolutionary resoluteness and valiant struggle in the worldwide anti-imperialist and democratic movement of the people.###

ON THE PASSING AWAY OF ANAKPAWIS REP. CRISPIN “KA BEL” BELTRAN

May 24, 2008

ON THE PASSING AWAY OF ANAKPAWIS REP. CRISPIN “KA BEL” BELTRAN

Gabriela Women’s Party mourns the passing away of veteran labor leader
and militant partylist Representative Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran.

In his death, we have lost a most formidable ally of workers, peasants
and the urban poor.

He has lived a worthy life in defense of the rights of workers and the
toiling masses as president of the Kilusang Mayo Uno and eventually as
a representative of Bayan Muna in the 12th Congress and of Anakpawis
Partylist in the 13th and 14th Congress. Ka Bel is behind the proposed
P125 across the board legislated wage increase and the Genuine
Agrarian Reform Bill.

He has faced battles as political detainee during the Marcos
administration and later on under the Arroyo regime after President
Arroyo declared a crackdown on her most vocal critics and issued
Proclamation 1017.

We grieve with Ka Bel’s family and the masses that he has courageously
and wholeheartedly served. We shall carry on his dreams of leaving his
grandchildren and the Filipino masses a more humane and just society.

Ka Bel: A fighter for the right to free expression

May 24, 2008

NATIONAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS OF THE PHILIPPINES

Statement
May 20, 2008

Ka Bel: A fighter for the right to free expression

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) mourns the passage of trade union leader and legislator Mr. Crispin Beltran. We will miss him both as a subject of our stories and as a friend of Filipino journalists.

Mr. Beltran was a tireless leader, advocate and ally of workers, including those in mass media. He was a fighter for press freedom and the right to free expression. As a legislator, he supported bills seeking to advance the cause of freedom of information. As a union leader, he stood by media workers on labor and welfare issues, once even joining the union of defunct Manila Chronicle at the picketline when it went on strike.

On behalf of media workers and journalists, we extend our sympathies to Mr Beltran’s family and colleagues.

References:
Jose Torres Jr., chair
Rowena Paraan, secretary-general

NCCP Statement on Ka Bel’s Death

May 24, 2008

May 21, 2008

Statement on Ka Bel’s Death

The
National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) joins the people
in mourning the passing away of Anak Pawis Party List Representative
Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran. Ka Bel was a man who lived a life utterly
dedicated to the struggle for justice. He was truly a man for others.

He
was misunderstood by those who held that life was all about being
identified with the ruling elite. He was maligned by those threatened
by his advocacy for just compensation for workers and land to the
tillers. He was demonized, hunted down, and jailed by the
powers-that-be and their sycophants.

But he was loved by the
toiling masses and all who cherished genuine freedom and peace. He was
a cut above the rest in his unswerving belief in the human capacity to
break free from those who oppress them. He may not have lived to see
his dream come to fruition, but, the seeds of struggle he has sown is
even now being nurtured on fertile ground – to germinate, bloom and
bear fruit in time.

We reach out to the family of Ka Bel. We thank you for sharing Ka Bel to the people. We shall be forever grateful.

May
God’s abundance which Ka Bel worked and fought for be upon us all. May
God receive a most worthy son. Ka Bel’s spirit will live on in the
people’s fight for just peace and freedom. Mabuhay si Ka Bel!

Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!

signed
Rev. REX RB REYES, JR.
General Secretary
National Council of Churches in the Philippines
879 EDSA, West Triangle, 1104 Quezon City
phone: (632) 9293745
fax: (632) 9267076
email: library@nccphilippines.org

Ka Bel: A Modern-Day Prophet against Modern-Day Slavery

May 24, 2008

Dear Friends,

From May 21 (7pm) to May 27 (am), Ka Bel will lie in state at the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI)* – National Cathedral, Taft Avenue Manila.

Ka Bel: A Modern-Day Prophet against Modern-Day Slavery

A True Champion of Workers’ Rights

Like Jesus Christ and the Prophets who denounced injustice, oppression and slavery, Ka Bel is worthy of emulation for being a modern-day prophet against the chains of modern-day slavery in our times.

Though his leftist ideology was incompatible with the beliefs of traditional churches, the life of Ka Bel proved to be even more meaningful than those of the Christians who remained silent and passive in the face of social injustice.

Contrary to the Philippine Constitution’s provisions on social justice and the Church’s Social Teachings on the value of human work, the dignity of labor and workers’ rights are grossly disregarded in the name of profits for big business and the corrupt government. Labor leaders and striking workers are killed, imprisoned and subjected to brutal police and military dispersals in the picketlines. We need many more modern-day prophets in the face of these realities of modern-day slavery.

Ka Bel proved to be a true champion of workers’ rights even in the face of persecution under the Marcos dictatorship and the current Arroyo regime. For six decades, Ka Bel’s life was consistently devoted for workers’ rights and dignity. He championed the people’s cause for genuine land reform, just living wages, job security and other fundamental human rights.

Over the years, while ‘yellow unions’ and their opportunist leaders have entered into self-serving deals with greedy capitalists and the corrupt government, the name of veteran labor leader CRISPIN ‘KA BEL’ BELTRAN was never tainted by a single act of corruption or compromise to serve personal interests. And while in Congress, he was never tempted to abuse his position and channel public funds for personal gain.

We church people have been challenged to march with Ka Bel and struggling workers who wished to reclaim the dignity of labor and workers’ rights. As we now offer prayers and join the Filipino people in rendering the highest tribute to a dearly beloved champion of workers and people’s rights, we pledge to keep the spirit of Ka Bel alive as we continue marching with the people.

Tuloy ang laban Ka Bel!

Tuloy ang laban para sa lupa, sahod, trabaho at karapatan!

Tuloy ang laban para sa katotohanan, katarungan at pagbabago!

Patalsikin ang papet, pahirap at pasistang rehimeng US-Arroyo!

Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR)

May 20, 2008

* The IFI is a Philippine national church founded by patriot Gregorio Aglipay, labor leader Isabelo de los Reyes and other nationalist Filipinos.

Macapagal-Arroyo gov’t responsible for Ka Bel’s frail health resulting to his accident – KMU

May 24, 2008

Illegal arrest and detention for more than a year

Macapagal-Arroyo gov’t responsible for Ka Bel’s frail health resulting to his accident – KMU

Militant Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) blamed the Macapagal-Arroyo government for causing Crispin ‘Ka Bel’ Beltran’s rapid health decline that resulted to his accident yesterday morning. Arroyo illegally detained Ka Bel for more than a year.

KMU Chairperson Elmer ‘Ka Bong’ Labog said it cannot be denied that the arrest and detention of Ka Bel at Camp Crame and Philippine Heart Center last 2006 due to fabricated cases of rebellion was a cause for his physical deterioration.

“There is no forgiveness for Arroyo has done to Ka Bel. The frailty of our Chairman Emeritus was brought about by the oppressiveness of her government. If KMU Founding Chairman Ka Bert Olalia died after being tortured in a bartolina at Camp Crame by the Marcos dicatatorship, the same happened to Ka Bel when he was illegally arrested and detained by the fascist US-Macapagal-Arroyo regime.

Labog also said that Malacañang’s condolences are plain fake because truth is, it lost one of its staunchest critique and opponent.

Meanwhile, Labog called on all workers of KMU and other allies to participate in the tribute for Ka Bel at the Philippine Independent Church (PIC), Escoda corner Taft Avenue.

KMU organized a tribute for Ka Bel tonight at the PIC with the theme “Crispin ‘Ka Bel’ Beltran: Dakilang Lider Manggagawa at Magiting na Bayani ng Sambayanan.”

Thousands of workers and supporters, with hundreds of KMU and Anakpawis flags, will welcome Ka Bel’s remains from Mozon Bulacan at the PIC.

MIGRANTE remembers Captain Ka Bel

May 24, 2008

MIGRANTE INTERNATIONAL mourns the death of veteran
labor leader Anakpawis Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel”
Beltran, whom we fondly call “Captain Ka Bel.

Ka Bel Beltran is a true champion of migrant
Filipinos’ rights and welfare. In the sudden passing
away of Ka Bel, we have lost, not only an ally, a
fighter and a friend but a brave and kind comrade who
lived his life, true to the tenets of “Serve The
People”.

For championing the cause of the working class all
around the world and, also, tireless in advancing
ofws’ rights and welfare, migrant Filipinos
everywhere have fondly given him the monicker
“Captain Ka Bel”, drawn from Mars Ravelo’s comic
superhero, “ Captain Barbell”, who was a fearless
defender of the poor.

Captain Ka Bel fought valiantly for us. In Hongkong,
he made a vigorous and successful stand against wage
cuts of Filipino domestic workers. As a Congressman,
first for Bayan Muna and , later on for AnakPawis, he
filed more than 20 resolutions and made fiery
privilege speeches against the intensification of the
exploitation of ofws and government’s labor export
program. He made sure that our voices be heard in the
halls of Congress. He also was a constant text mate
and visitor at our office, always seeking our opinions
on various issues or offering his warm support and
friendship in difficult times.

Though his death is a great loss to migrant Filipinos
worldwide, his life, as he lived it will always serve
as an inspiration. He will no longer be physically
with us but Captain Ka Bel’s cape will continue to
flutter on every member of the working class as we
pursue this gallant fight for social justice and
genuine freedom.

Hindi mo kami maiiwan ,Captain Ka Bel, dahil nakaukit
ka na sa aming puso’t diwa. Sa bawat hakbang naming
pasulong patungong tagumpay, tiyak na kasama ka namin.
Mabuhay ka, mahal na Kasamang Bel!

Crispin ‘Ka Bel’ Beltran, mahal kong boss at Kasama

May 24, 2008

By Ina Alleco

My boss, favorite labor leader/mass leader, kaibigan and pinakamamahal na kasama Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran died earlier today, a little before noon after sustaining massive head injuries. No he wasn’t felled by bullets by assassins sent by the military or the government; he died because he hit his head on the pavement when he fell off the roof of his house in Bulacan. He was fixing it, most probably because it’s the typhoon season and he didn’t want to risk water leaking through fissures or cracks and flooding his and Ka Osang’s house.

Am trying to be calm about it, because in my grief I am angry. Angry because his death was so senseless — it’s silly even! Had his fall not been fatal and had he only broken a leg or a shoulder, the entire accident would have been turned into an anecdote, a cautionary tale – one of the stories one tells about the big hearted, kind, compassionate but often stubborn great labor leader that he is. Was. I wonder how long it will be until I begin referring to Ka Bel in the past tense?

But nevermind my anger. What happened — his being on the roof, a 75-year old man with a hammer, doing household work and making sure his home and family were safe from the rains — is (was?) so like Ka Bel. He lived and worked from day to day always with meaningful intent, with purpose, with the aim to protect and defend those he cared for and loved the most. And that purpose extended (oh how it it did reach outward and forward like an undeniable force of nature!) beyond his family — he embraced the working class, the Filipino people, and even the poor and oppressed of other nations.

He was a good guy. He liked to laugh- with others and even at himself. He laughed like a little boy with a good secret and he was tickled pink by it. He had a smile that made you forgive his sometimes outrageous comments (often directed against the likes of de facto president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, DOJ secretary Raul Gonzalez, national security adviser Noberto Gonzales and Executive secretary Eduardo Ermita as well as certain officials of the House of Representatives). He was self-effacing and self-deprecating when it came to his own achievements, and in his commitment and opposition against what he he referred to as ‘the evil government’ he was fierce and fearless. He was an internationalist, a man with the highest socialist ideals, and he lived and practiced what he believed in on a daily basis. He was a good father and husband, nevermind that he was never a good provider. He shared what he had with others, be it the last crumpled P20 bill in his battered wallet, or his wide knowledge of history, politics and economics. (Those who knew him best also knew better than to start a discussion with Ka Bel about the state of the nation or the state of the economy of whatever other country — Ka Bel loved discourse, and loved a healthy discussion. Often he’d risk being late for committee hearings or plenary because he’d gotten so involved in conversations with visitors. Thank goodness his staff are persistent – they had no qualms about dragging Ka Bel away and shooing him off to his appointments.)

I worked with and for Ka Bel for more than a decade. I became one of his staff when he was still the chairman of the militant Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) back in 1995; and when he was elected to his first term as a party-list representative of Bayan Muna in 2001, I joined his office first as his media officer, and eventually as his chief of staff. This was a post I maintained when he got elected to his second and third term under Anakpawis until I moved to the NDFP Human Rights Monitoring Committee in the Joint Monitoring Committee late in 2007. That’s a total of 12 years! I’m now 32, and I am proud to say that my most formative years as a writer, as an activist have been shaped and influenced by the likes of Ka Bel. Twelve years, and every day of it was a great honor to serve such a sincere, humble and highly-intelligent and deeply committed servant of the people.

I have to admit that this day is a day that I’ve long feared would come. Ka Bel wasn’t young, and he had diabetes and hypertension, and the last two years had been so stressful for him because of his unjust and illegal incarceration on trumped-up charges of rebellion. I feared that the day would come when I wouldn’t hear his voice anymore in the rallies or in the plenary hall of the House of Representatives. When I wouldn’t hear his laugh or see his smile and have him grasp my hand tightly in his as he asks how I’m doing. When the Philippine labor movement would lose its staunchest, most fearless leader.

Well, that day has arrived, and no matter how I’ve prepared myself for it mentally, emotionally it’s still quite, quite difficult to bear.

“Ka Bel is a true champion of genuine unionism,” – Labor NGO

May 24, 2008

“Ka Bel is a true champion of genuine unionism,” – Labor NGO

The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, Inc. (EILER, Inc.) expressed condolences to the family of Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran who died this Tuesday morning due to an accident in his home and calls Ka Bel as a true champion of genuine unionism.

Anna Leah Escresa, Program Officer of EILER,Inc. said that workers and labor advocates have lost a lot in the passing of a respected and veteran labor leader who had been considered as one of the foundation of genuine unionism in the Philipines, “We have known Ka Bel from our research and education programs and have learned a lot from him in promoting genuine trade unionism through mass education and skills trainings for workers and worker-leaders.”

Beltran have started his calling in the workers’ movement when he joined and became secretary general of the Kilusang Mayo Uno in the 1980s. He had been persecuted during the former dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and was jailed by the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration in 2006.

“His life tells us of how it is to really fight for the cause and welfare of the ordinary Juan Obrero,” Escresa ended.###

FIL-AMS MOURN THE DEATH OF GREAT FILIPINO LABOR LEADER, CRISPIN BELTRAN

May 24, 2008

FIL-AMS MOURN THE DEATH OF GREAT FILIPINO LABOR LEADER, CRISPIN BELTRAN
Bayan USA Statement on Ka Bel’s Passing

It is with great sadness that the US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, mourns the death of great Filipino labor leader and proletarian Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran. News of his passing at 11:48am on Monday, May 20th Philippine time spread like wildfire among our membership across both west and east coasts, in at least five major US cities. Our heartfelt condolences and sympathies immediately go out to Ka Bel’s wife Ka Osang and their family of 10 children and 27 grandchildren.

For us, Ka Bel was a legend in his own time, a model of a “tibak” through the decades to emulate. In his over half-century of service to the Filipino people and the Philippine struggle for genuine democracy and freedom, Ka Bel never wavered for an instant in his conviction and commitment. That is simply because Ka Bel was the most remolded of comrades, with a fighting spirit permanently fixated in his being. He was a man who was born from and continued to live simply and humbly among the Filipino urban poor, even though he was already taking on in his later years the distinguished role of Congressman in the Lower House of the Philippine Congress. Ka Bel lived and died with the simplicity of the Filipino “masa”.

Few comrades in our time have the impressive list of credits stacked up in Ka Bel’s resume. For such a simple man, he is forever etched in our minds as the great Chairman Emeritus of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), the militant nationalist alliance of Philippine labor groups and unions that was instrumental in the overall Philippine national struggle that ousted two US puppet presidents and even unwanted US military bases. But few of us in the US recall his even humbler beginnings as a taxi driver in the streets of Manila back in the 1950’s.

While many activists of his generation began in the campus-based youth and student movement, Ka Bel was a real worker who emerged out of worker’s struggles related to wages, contracts, and job security.

Ka Bel was the president of the Yellow Taxi Drivers’ Union and the Amalgamated Taxi Drivers Federation from 1955 through 1963. He later became the an administrator with the Confederation of Labor Unions of the Philippines from 1963-1972, and eventually the vice president of the Philippine Alliance of Nationalist Organizations (PANALO) which transformed into the Alliance of Nationalist Genuine Labor Organizations (ANGLO), which was affiliated with the KMU, which was established on May 1, 1980. In his 20’s, Ka Bel’s name was already famously-linked to street protests, pickets, strikes and labor struggles.

As Secretary-General of the KMU, Ka Bel served alongside historical and stalwart labor greats such as Felixberto “Bert” Olalia in the early 1980’s. As a force of nature against the US-backed Marcos dictatorship, Ka Bel and other KMU leaders where arrested in 1982, and together were thrown in jail to succumb to years of torture by their captors. While Ka Bert eventually died of pneumonia in his jail cell, Ka Bel lived on to continue the labor fight upon his great escape from prison, despite his health impediments related to his detention.

Fresh from escape from the clutches of the Marcos dictatorship, Ka Bel took refuge in the countryside in Central Luzon, where he stayed with the guerrilla movement of the New People’s Army (NPA). There he was known as “Ka Anto” and stayed for two years before returning to the city upon Marcos’ ouster from People Power in 1986.

Ka Bel was also a great internationalist. Revered not only as a Philippine labor leader, Ka Bel advocated and spoke on behalf of labor struggles of different global regions, and was grounded in his belief of the great international struggle of the world’s proletariat. He was also the founding Chair of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) in 2001.

From 2001 on, Ka Bel served in a minority of pro-poor legislators in Philippine House of Representatives, where he also became an advocate particularly for the rights and welfare of Filipino migrant workers. In the last years of his life, Ka Bel was once again thrown into prison for trumped-up charges of rebellion and sedition. Even with his failing health and the intensification of state terrorism under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) regime, Ka Bel remained unfazed until his joyous liberation last year.

Such stories of great leaders do not come often in our human history, and they have also served as inspirations for the formation of people’s organizations outside of the homefront, such as ours. That is why to honor his life, BAYAN USA pledges to emulate his example and strengthen our resolve to contribute fully to the Philippine people’s struggle for genuine nationalism and freedom, as well as the struggle to oust the morally-bankrupt Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime. Generations of subsequent Filipino, overseas Filipino, and international labor activists will not let his example die.

MABUHAY ANG DIWA NI KA BEL!
LONG LIVE THE SPIRIT OF KA BEL!
MABUHAY ANG KILUSAN PARA SA PAMBANSANG DEMOKRASYA!
LONG LIVE THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT!

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

May 24, 2008

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

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

May 24, 2008

PRESS STATEMENT
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
globalization.

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
931.6615

GABNet Statement on the Passing of Ka Bel

May 24, 2008

GABNet Statement on the Passing of Ka Bel
From Dr. Annalisa Enrile
National Chairperson
GABRIELA Network USA

GABRIELA Network USA, its entire membership singly and collectively,
and all sister organizations under the Mariposa Alliance, hereby give
our last clenched-fist salute to the indomitable labor leader and
revolutionary Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, standard bearer of the
Anakpawis Party and chair of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement).

We feel as bereft as his family, comrades, friends and allies; and
share with them an immense sense of loss at his death. He was a
leader among leaders, a rarity one could respect and admire without
reservation.

We held and continue to hold Ka Bel dear for his uncompromising
dedication to the struggle for the emancipation of the working class,
for the liberation of the Filipino people and for the creation of a
society where true justice and equality could prevail.

We held and continue to hold Ka Bel dear for his militancy, his
personal courage and continued defiance of the political repression
which successive Philippine governments – from the Marcos Dictatorship
which imprisoned him to the Macapagal-Arroyo government which again
imprisoned him—visited upon his person, upon the Filipino worker and
upon the Filipino people. We only regret that Ka Bel, who saw the
demise of the Marcos Dictatorship, will not witness the demise of the
current regime which has murdered nearly a thousand progressive
leaders and activists.

We held and continue to hold Ka Bel dear for being one of the most
considerate leaders of the Philippine national democratic movement,
despite the enormous power of his reputation and positions. He dealt
fairly, politely and patiently, and sometimes with humor, with even
the least of those he came into contact with.

We held and continue to hold Ka Bel dear for unfailingly treating
women with due respect and equality, never even once condescending to
them or their struggle for emancipation, but recognizing the need for
women’s emancipation as an intrinsic part of the struggle to liberate
the Filipino people and the Filipino nation.

And finally, we held and continue to hold Ka Bel dear for having made
indelible, through personal example, the dignity of the working class,
the justness of the cause of workers’ emancipation, and the
correctness of working class leadership.

We beg his wife, children, relatives and friends to accept this
message of sympathy at their pain. Time may be the great enemy of
individual lives, bringing each to an end, abrupt and often
unexpected; but time is also a great ally of mass movements, in the
epic march towards freedom, equality and liberation, and for the
historic vindication of such heroes as Ka Bel.

Crispin Beltran, presente!

Ka Bel: Not a Senseless, Silly Death

May 24, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — It would be so easy to dismiss the accidental death of Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran as senseless, silly even, as one blogger put it. What a way to go — falling off a roof! — for a man who fought and survived repressive regimes. The thinking by some seems to be that dying by an assassin’s bullet, like many of Ka Bel’s friends and comrades, would have left a deeper impact on the public and would have lend Ka Bel’s death that profound political, perhaps heroic, significance fitting for somebody who raised hell against oppression and inequality practically all his life.


A simple life: Is this the house of a congressman?

Ka Bel died because he was an honest man. He was poor, yes, but precisely because he was simple and honest. These values are the core of his politics. These values compelled him to wake up at 4 in the morning to tend to his garden. Yesterday, these same values made him go up the roof of his house to check for leaks.

How many congressmen would dare do what he did, both in the halls of Congress and in their households? Up to his death, Ka Bel remained what he had always been — a man whose political tenacity is matched only by his awe-inspiring dedication to his family (especially to his wife) and to an utterly simple, almost spartan, life in a country where members of Congress often behave like they own the world.

For a man so principled, and so loved and respected, no death could be more fitting than this one. (Carlos Conde/pinoypress.net)

Anakpawis: Mariano to replace Beltran in House

May 21, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — Former party-list congressman Rafael Mariano will be returning to the House of Representatives to replace the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Representative Crispin Beltran, who died in an accident Tuesday.

This was confirmed Wednesday by Cherry Clemente, Anakpawis secretary general, and Carl Ala, spokesman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines).

In fact, the party-list group was already preparing the speech Mariano would deliver on his oath-taking, “hopefully by Monday next week,” Clemente said.

Mariano, who served as Anakpawis representative in the 13th Congress, is current president of the party-list and also KMP chairman.

Clemente said that Mariano is the “logical choice” to replace Beltran since the former congressman was the party-list group’s second nominee during the 2007 elections.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Mariano avoided questions on his possible return to Congress, but said he would continue the work that Beltran had begun.

“The struggle continues. Ka Bel has shown continuous struggle in Congress to protect the laborers and farmers. He filed House Bill 3059, or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, and House Bill 1722, the P125 wage hike to workers across the board,” Mariano said.

Mariano said they have compiled a list of 13 nominees to replace Beltran, but Clemente said this was just a “formality” and that the Anakpawis president would replace Beltran.

Abigail Kwok, INQUIRER.net

Sympathies pour in for Beltran’s family

May 21, 2008

MANILA, Philippines – Sympathies poured in for the family of the late Anakpawis partylist Rep. Crispin Beltran, who succumbed to severe head injuries after suffering a bad fall in an accident early Tuesday.

Radio dzBB reported that messages of condolence and sympathy came from Malacañang, both houses of Congress, and even the Philippine National Police.

In Malacañang, Presidential Management Staff head Cerge Remonde “mourned” the loss of a militant leader, and expressed sympathies to Beltran’s loved ones.

Remonde said the Cabinet learned of Beltran’s death before noon, during its meeting in Bohol.

“Our sincerest condolences. We lost a militant leader with his passing,” Remonde said.

For his part, Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez also expressed condolences for Beltran’s death.

“We mourn the untimely demise of one of the most respected labor leaders in the country, Rep. Crispin Beltran. He was a respected member of the House of Representatives where he represented the interests of our labor force and has been considered a vital figure in our country’s modern political history,” Golez said.

Also, Deputy Presidential Spokesman Lorelei Fajardo said the Palace shares Beltran’s family’s grief with the lawmaker’s passing. Fajardo said despite differing on political views, Malacañang regarded Beltran with respect.

“Our condolences to the family of the late Cong. Beltran. We share their grief in this time of great personal loss. While congressman Beltran and the Armed Forces may have stood at opposite poles in the pursuit of our respective mission, we regarded him with respect. Like many of our soldier-heroes, he stood for what he believed in. And in my personal view, he is a true Filipino,” Fajardo said.

At the Senate, Senate president Manuel Villar Jr hailed Beltran for showing an example of true public service.

Senator Francis Escudero, a former opposition congressman who worked with Beltran at the House of Representatives, said Beltran’s passing away was untimely saying the lawmaker could still have served the country well.

“Hindi marapat at karapat-dapat na pumanaw siya dahil kailangan pa siya at marami pa siyang magagawa sa bansa (He should have not passed away yet because he is still needed and still has a lot of things to do for the country),” Escudero said.

For his part, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said he admired not only Beltran’s strong principles but also his simple lifestyle, noting that the late lawmaker still insisted on doing repairs in their own roof despite his old age.

Cayetano said that while he does not agree with some of Beltran’s stand on certain issues, he still considers the late party-list lawmaker as a “true reformist.”

At the Lower House, House Speaker Prospero Nograles Jr and Deputy Majority leader Rep. Neptali Gonzales II also gave out their sympathies to the loved ones left by Beltran.

Both lawmakers expressed their grief over the death of who they consider as the “voice of human rights and masses in Congress.”

Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez, House Deputy Minority leader, said Beltran would be greatly missed not only by members of the House minority but by everyone in Congress.

The progressive bloc in the Lower House, on the other hand, said they would continue Beltran’s fight for workers’ rights.

Even Philippine National Police chief Dir. Gen. Avelino Razon Jr mourned Beltran’s loss. – Mark Merueñas, GMANews.TV

Beltran: A worker to the end

May 20, 2008

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)

NDF mourns death of Beltran, ‘hero of working class’

May 20, 2008

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands — (UPDATE) The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) on Tuesday expressed grief over the death of labor leader and Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Representative Crispin Beltran.

Fidel Agcaoili, member of the NDF peace negotiating panel, said the peace panel and its consultants had sent the Beltran family a white wreath with the message: “Pagpupugay sa isang dakilang bayani ng uring manggagawa at sambayanang Pilipino [In honor of an exemplary hero of the working class and the Filipino nation].”

NDF peace panel chairman Luis Jalandoni said they would turn their “grief into revolutionary courage” and continue the work of trying to realize the ideals Beltran had stood for.

The NDF is the umbrella group of underground organizations allied with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army. It represents the communist revolutionary movement in peace negotiations with the government.

Jalandoni said Beltran is a great loss to the international community, having been the first chairman of the International League of People’s Struggle, which has 200 organizations from 40 countries.

A few years back, Jalandoni recalled, Beltran had just attended a hearing on the terrorist tag on CPP founder and NDF political consultant Jose Maria Sison in Luxembourg when the car they were riding in got stuck in a ditch. Beltran, who was wearing a suit, got out of the car and pushed it out of the ditch.

“He didn’t mind that he was wearing a suit. He was that kind of man,” he said. (PDI)

Beltran listed as assets 2 barong, shirts, eyeglasses

May 20, 2008

MANILA, Philippines—In a House of Representatives filled with multimillionaires, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran died Tuesday the poorest of them all, the summary of statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of House members showed.

As of Dec. 31, 2007, Beltran had a declared net worth of only P50,000 with assets of P110,000 and liabilities of P60,000. He was least in the House in terms of net worth, placing last among 238 members.

The document was prepared and signed by lawyer Ricardo Bering, director of the House records management service. It was certified correct by Jose Ma. Antonio Tuano, executive director of the House administrative management bureau.

A copy of Beltran’s SALN received by the House of Representatives on Aug. 1, 2007 showed that his net worth amounted to P22,750.

He declared as his only real asset his home in Barangay Commonwealth, GAO, Quezon City worth P50,000 which he acquired in 1978.

Instead of appliances and jewelry, he declared as personal assets his two barong tagalog, a pair of eyeglasses, cabinet shelves and shirts. Together, he said, they amounted to P14,750.

Beltran declared as his liability the remaining bills from his lengthy “hospital arrest” at the Philippine Heart Center which amounted to P42,000.

His house in Barangay Muzon in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan where he met his freak accident wasn’t reflected in the said document.

A member of his staff, Maureen Hermitanio, explained that it was only acquired after Beltran was on his second term in the House in 2004 as Anakpawis party-list representative.

Hermitanio said it was bought with a loan from the Government Service Insurance System.

Beltran was followed at No. 236 and No. 237, respectively, by two other leftist party-list members—Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo with a net worth of P618,147.33 and Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño who declared assets worth P307,900.

Despite millions of pesos available to him as a lawmaker, Beltran lived a simple life.

His unpainted house sits on a 60-square meter lot in a low-cost housing subdivision in Francisco Homes 3, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.

The monthly amortization is P5,000, according to his wife Rosario “Ka Osang” Beltran.

In the living room are a simple sofa and two electric fans.

An old TV set in the only bedroom can be seen from the dining area, which also served as the lawmaker’s office.

“He slept here on a folding bed. I sleep in the sala,” Ka Osang said.

In front of the house is a small store—her “libangan” (pastime) while the lawmaker was away.

“By his living here among us, we knew he was not corrupt,” said a neighbor, Adela Aceron.

“There are even bigger houses owned by ordinary employees,” she said.

According to Beltran’s brother-in-law, Fortunato Soto, the lawmaker had been wanting to put up a shade in the yard in anticipation of the rainy season.

Soto said Tuesday was the first time Beltran deviated from his daily routine of going to his garden upon waking at 4 a.m.

(PDI)

‘Ka Bel’ dies in fall while repairing roof

May 20, 2008

MANILA, Philippines—Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran bolted the Marcos prisons, emerged bloodied from many a street demonstration, and, even in his advanced years, continued to fight the government and face threats of arrest.

From joining a taxi drivers’ union in the 1950s and leading campaigns for higher wages across five administrations, to becoming a three-term lawmaker representing militant labor, Beltran cut an unflinching, if gaunt, figure.

But “Ka Bel” also took these battles home and turned his otherwise private struggles amid the rising costs of living into an extension of his lifelong protest against the system.

His sudden death Tuesday at 75 after an accident at 6 a.m. at the family home, a barely finished bungalow whose roof needed repair in time for the wet season, brought to full light the proletarian path he had embraced.

It was his daughter, Ofelia Ballate, who made the grim announcement of the man’s passing: “Patay na po si Congressman Beltran.”

Ballate was briefing reporters outside the emergency room of the Far Eastern University-Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation Medical Center in Fairview, Quezon City, on her father’s slim chances of recovery when she was told of his heart failing yet again after a fifth attempt at resuscitation.

“My mother and I agreed that if after resuscitation his heart again collapses, he’ll no longer be revived,” Ballate said at 11:35 a.m., breaking into tears.

She said her father appeared to be experiencing pain breathing each time he was revived through an injected medication.

The family was also told, she said, to come to a decision on the efforts to revive her father because he appeared to be hanging on to life only with the help of the life-support drug.

“Our family’s decision in case he again went into cardiac arrest was to let him go. We all know that Ka Bel lived his life to the fullest,” Ballate said.

“He was able to raise all of us his 11 children. He was a labor leader, a parliamentarian, an activist, and a very good father,” she said.

Personal is political

Listed as one of the House of Representatives’ “poorest” members since winning a party-list seat in 2001, Beltran refused to pay his electricity bills in April 2002 in protest against the Purchased Power Adjustment rate (PPA) charged by Manila Electric Co.

Then living in a depressed area near the Batasan complex in Quezon City, Beltran agreed to pay only the basic charge and not the PPA that accounted for half of his bill, and refused offers of financial aid from friends and supporters.

By October 2002, with his unpaid bills amounting to around P14,600, Meralco cut off his electricity.

It was not the last time Beltran’s politics and personal money problems would become intertwined.

In July 2007, after 15 months of treatment at the Philippine Heart Center (PHC), Beltran had incurred bills of over P1 million.

He was then under “hospital arrest” on rebellion charges filed by the administration, which linked him to an alleged plot to oust President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in February 2006.

The Supreme Court later voided the charges, clearing Beltran and five other Left-leaning party-list representatives then collectively dubbed the “Batasan 5.”

In his 2007 Statement of Assets and Liabilities that the Philippine Daily Inquirer obtained from the House Tuesday, Beltran wrote that he still owed the PHC P42,000 as of 2007.

His assets stood at P64,750, including his P50,000 house in Barangay Commonwealth, Quezon City. He reported his net worth as P22,750.

Strong heart; head injury severe

Dr. Arnold Corpuz, one of the doctors that attended to Beltran at the Fairview hospital, put the time of Beltran’s death at 11:48 a.m.

He told reporters that Beltran had a laceration on the right side of the head and broken ribs, but the cause of death was “head injuries secondary to a fall.”

Corpuz said Beltran was already in a coma when he was admitted to the Fairview hospital. He said the head laceration was sutured at the North Caloocan Doctors’ Hospital where the lawmaker was taken for initial treatment.

“He had a strong heart. But the head injury was so severe that his breathing and heart kept stopping [after each resuscitation],” Corpuz said.

Beltran’s body was later brought to the hospital’s Room 311 to allow his family to grieve privately.

According to Renato Reyes, secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Rosario “Ka Osang” Beltran thanked her husband for everything he had done for her and the rest of the family as she held him in a farewell embrace.

“She thanked him for raising their family. They lived a simple life. You could see how much the husband and wife meant to each other,” Reyes said.

During Beltran’s detention under Marcos, it was Ka Osang who delivered her husband’s speeches at rallies. She joined other activists’ wives in campaigning for the release of political prisoners, according to an account of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).

The couple were married for more than 50 years. In the past few years, they lived in a house in Barangay Muzon in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.

Man for others

Beltran was “hands-on with household work,” said his daughter Ofelia Ballate.

“They had a very simple life, with no household helpers… It was not the first time that he went up the roof,” she said.

In Bacacay, Albay, Beltran’s birthplace, his younger sister Gerodia Beltran-Mirafuentes remembered him as a helpful man.

“As long as there was something he could do to help, not just his family but also other people, he would not refuse to do it,” Mirafuentes said.

She said Beltran worked hard even while studying so he could help their parents—farmer/fisherman Paciano Beltran and housewife Valentina Bertes—provide for their schooling.

The second of 10 children, Beltran was born on Jan. 7, 1933.

He spent his childhood in the island village of Tanagan and completed his early education at the Bacacay East Central School and the Tabaco National High School in Tabaco City.

“He tended the school’s poultry farm when he was in high school so he could be free from tuition and lodging expenses,” Mirafuentes said.

He moved to Metro Manila and went to college at the Far Eastern University.

But he had to work, first as a gasoline boy and then as a taxi driver to support his studies.

Beltran also took up labor management at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

He studied in the day and worked at night, Mirafuentes said.

“Our father worked so we would have something to eat. The food we ate were the fruits of his hard work as farmer and fisherman,” she said, adding:

“Growing up to these realities, my brother always wanted to help our parents. He sacrificed for the welfare of his younger siblings.”

Mirafuentes said it was Beltran’s simplicity and service for others that distinguished him from most politicians.

“If we needed to get rich, our family could have long been rich. But he refused all [offers]. Since the Marcos regime, he always got imprisoned for standing for his principles,” Mirafuentes said.

“Even if my brother was a political prisoner, we were happy, because we knew he was able to help many people,” she said.

Labor organizer

From being a member and eventual president of the Yellow Taxi Drivers Union and the Amalgamated Taxi Drivers Federation, he rose to become a full-time labor organizer in the ‘60s.

During the Marcos regime, Beltran was among the political activists incarcerated. He escaped on Nov. 21, 1984, after two years of detention.

He was said to have been sheltered by the communist New People’s Army and waited for the overthrow of Marcos in 1986. That same year he became chair of the KMU, taking over after the murder of Rolando Olalia, and later chair of the Bayan in 1993.

In 1987, he ran for senator under the Partido ng Bayan ticket and lost.

At the time of his death, Beltran was on his third term as a party-list representative.

The 14th Congress credits him with authoring bills seeking a P125 across-the-board wage increase and the repeal of the Oil Deregulation Law, instituting reforms in the coconut industry, and declaring Jan. 22 National Farmers Day, among others.

Free man

Beltran’s relatives in Bacacay expressed gratitude that he died a free man.

“We are thankful that he faced a natural death, that he did not die in prison or from a bullet,” they said.

Said Mirafuentes: “He was a politician of the poor. He died a poor man.”

Statement on Ka Bel

May 20, 2008

May 21, 2008
Press Statement

Reference:
Vijae Alquisola, Deputy Secretary-General, 09162034402


CEGP honors Ka Bel, defender of freedom of expression and civil liberties

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines extends its most heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, colleagues and comrades of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin ‘Ka Bel’ Beltran for his untimely demise.

The CEGP honors Ka Bel for his tireless defense of the right to freedom of expression and respect for civil liberties. The CEGP also bestows its deepest admiration for Ka Bel’s life-long crusade to champion the cause of the oppressed even as he constantly fell victim to political harassment and persecution.

His was an example that should be emulated by young journalists, campus press workers and freedom of expression advocates, especially during these crucial times that these sectors of society continue to be under attack.

Ka Bel’s was a life lived with the greatest of principles and convictions that which may be unparalleled by this generation and even by generations to come. ###

COLLEGE EDITORS GUILD OF THE PHILIPPINES
Rm 305, National Press Club Bldg., Intramuros,
Manila, Philippines
Tele Fax.: 524-3937
Email: cegpnational@ yahoo.com
“To Write Is Already To Choose”

Pumanaw na si Ka Bel: Statement on the death of Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran

May 20, 2008

News Release – May 20, 2008
For Reference: Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, 0920-9035683
For more information: Vince Borneo, Media Officer, 0927-7968198
Statement on the death of Rep. Crispin "Ka Bel" Beltran
  
Bayan Muna joins the entire Filipino people in mourning the death of our dear comrade,
former Kilusang Mayo Uno Chairperson and incumbent Anakpawis Representative
Crispin "Ka Bel" Beltran.
  
Ka Bel's death is an irreparable loss not only to the working class movement but to every 
Filipino yearning for genuine social change. He was a tower of a man, a pillar of strength 
for the progressive people's movement. His name has become synonymous to the militant 
labor movement.
  
Indeed, Ka Bel's leadership in the progressive
 people's movement extended beyond our shores. At the time of his death, he was the 
Chairperson of the International Coordinating Group of the International League of People's 
Struggle (ILPS), an anti-imperialist and democratic formation of people's movements from 
more than 30 countries.
  
In Congress, Ka Bel proved his mettle as a genuine representative of the marginalized and 
oppressed, representing Bayan Muna in 2001-2003 and later, Partido Anakpawis. His voice 
was a voice of conscience and   defiance to the well-entrenched, reactionary interests 
dominating thehalls and corridors of power.
  
This afternoon, we were expecting Ka Bel to join us in filing a bill to remove the Value Added Tax 
on power. We shall push through with the filing of the bill and include Ka Bel's name as a co-author 
in honor of his dedication to the struggles of our oppressed and marginalized people.
  
In his death, Ka Bel now joins Crisanto Evangelista, Ka Bert Olalia and Ka Lando Olalia in that list 
of great leaders of the revolutionary working class movement.
  
We shall miss Ka Bel terribly. But his legacy of struggle continues.
  
  
  
Rep. Satur Ocampo
Party President
  
Dr. Reynaldo Lesaca
Party Chairman
  
Nathanael
 Santiago
Party Secretary General
  
Rep. Teddy Casino
Party list representative

Vincent Michael L. Borneo
Political Affairs Officer
(Media and Public Relations)
Office of BAYAN MUNA Rep. Teddy A. Casiño
Rm. 508, North Wing Bldg.,
House of Representatives, Quezon City
Telefax no: 931-5911