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BAYAN Philippines & BAYAN USA on Labor Leader Ka Bel

by BAYAN Thursday, May. 22, 2008 at 6:08 AM

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan pays its highest tribute to our former chairman, Crispin "Ka Bel" Beltran after his untimely passing on May 20, 2008. We give our most heartfelt condolences to the family, comrades, friends and the millions of supporters who are grieving the loss of an outstanding fighter for national and social liberation and a beloved leader of the Filipino working class and people.

BAYAN Philippines & ...
ka-bel-icon.gif, image/gif, 418x254

Long live the memory of Crispin "Ka Bel" Beltran, outstanding fighter for national and social liberation, beloved leader of the Filipino working class and people

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan

May 21, 2008

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan pays its highest tribute to our former chairman, Crispin "Ka Bel" Beltran after his untimely passing on May 20, 2008. We give our most heartfelt condolences to the family, comrades, friends and the millions of supporters who are grieving the loss of an outstanding fighter for national and social liberation and a beloved leader of the Filipino working class and people.

The Filipino people mourn the loss of a towering figure in the Philippine labor and people's movement. Ka Bel holds the distinct achievement of being chairman of the Kilusang Mayo Uno, the multi-sectoral Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, the partylist Anakpawis and the International League of People's Struggle.

Before holding these important positions in the mass movement, Ka Bel was a courier for the guerilla movement against the Japanese occupation in World War 2, a taxi driver and union leader in the 50's, and a leader of the labor sector from the 60's onward, before becoming a lawmaker.

Ka Bel was detained during Martial Law but managed to escape the fascist dictatorship and continue the struggle in the underground movement. He continued his activities during the Aquino, Ramos and Estrada administrations, often leading huge protest actions for workers demands, human rights, and a host of multi-sectoral issues.

Ka Bel was also detained and placed under hospital arrest for 16 months under the fascist Arroyo regime. He was arrested based on a 20 year old warrant and charged with the non-bailable crime of rebellion in 2006. The Supreme Court has ordered the trumped up charges dismissed.

Time and again, the powers that be sought to suppress the fiery resistance of Ka Bel. None succeeded.

Ka Bel was loved by the people he served. His determination, sacrifice and simple living inspired others, especially when he upheld these same values while serving in the House of Representatives. Ka Bel would not be bribed nor bought. He was poor, yes, but only in terms of assets and liabilities. What he gave up in wealth, he more than made up for in terms of honesty and integrity.

He was also steadfast in his beliefs. Ka Bel believed that a better world is possible and that this could be achieved only through the united struggle of oppressed peoples here and abroad. He believed that imperialism and reaction can be defeated and that a bright socialist future awaits the toiling peoples of the world. He was a staunch patriot who believed that the Philippines should be freed from the scourges of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.

We grieve the loss of Ka Bel. His death is as heavy as the Sierra Madre. He lived a life ever-dedicated to the liberation of the Filipino people and the emancipation of the working class.

We offer our most militant salute to our beloved Ka Bel!



May 20, 2008


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.





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