Crispin Beltran (“Ka Bel” or Comrade Bel) was a legendary working-class fighter in the Philippines for national democracy and liberation. Good Morning Revolution reposts a statement from Kilusang Mayo Uno on his recent passing.
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 Hall 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 six 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 Iglesia Filipina Independiente starting May 21. ###
(Anakpawis press release, 20 May 2008.)