• Baguio City, Cordillera Administrative Region, Philippines

Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran’s 1st Death Anniversary
A Day to Commemorate A Workers’ Hero

May 18, 2009

Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran has lived a life for the defense of peoples’ rights and in service to the toiling Filipino masses. He is a genuine leader of the working class. He had fought for justice and ardently participated in the struggle of the Filipino peoples for genuine freedom and democracy. Because of this, he had been persecuted by the cruel rulers of the state until his untimely death on May 20, 2008.

Comes May 20, the Kilusang Mayo Uno-Cordillera, together with the Filipino people, especially the workers and anakpawis (toiling masses) will remember and salute Ka Bel, on his first death anniversary.

At the founding of the Kilusang Mayo Uno on May 1, 1980, Ka Bel became the first general secretary, with Ka Bert Olalia as the founding national chairperson. Under their leadership, KMU reached out widely to the workers in the country that increased its membership from the initial 50,000 members up to more than 300,000. During the darkest years of martial rule, KMU became a very powerful instrument among the working sector that seeks genuine trade unionism and an organization committed to the struggle against fascism and for national democracy and freedom.

Because of its militancy, the fascist US-Marcos dictatorial regime tried to suppress KMU. The regime arrested and detained Ka Bel and Ka Bert and other labor leaders on August 13, 1982. But even behind bars, Ka Bert and Ka Bel continued to lead, organize and inspire the peoples’ movement against the fascist US-Marcos regime. Ka Bert died of pneumonia inside his detention cell.

With the help of his wife, Ka Bel successfully implemented an escape plan on November 1984. He went to organize the peasantry in the countryside. He went back to Manila after the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos on February 1986 and became active again with KMU.

On November 13, 1986, Atty. Rolando “Ka Lando” Olalia and his driver were abducted and brutally killed by the government military forces. Ka Lando was then the national chairman of KMU. After the death of Ka Lando, Ka Bel has to assume leadership. As a labor leader, Ka Bel has been very active in fighting for the interest of the toiling masses, the struggle of the Filipino working class and the oppressed people in and out the country. During his term of leadership, KMU became known in the whole world. While chairman of KMU, he also served as the national chairperson of the progressive and militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or BAYAN in 1993-1999.; he became president of Bayan Muna in 2001-2003; became the first chairperson of the International League of Peoples Struggle (ILPS) in 2001-2003; and became national president of Anakpawis Partylist in 2003. He temporarily left KMU in 2004 to concentrate on his responsibilities inside the House of Representative. He was again elected for the second and third time in 2004 and 2007 under the banner of Anakpawis Partylist.

At the halls of the Philippine Congress, Ka Bel championed the issues of the poor. His speeches, bills and resolutions authored or co-authored by him, 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 intense in opposing the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Arroyo's support to the U.S. war on terror and the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and corruption.

Ka Bel and the other progressive party list representatives were denied their CDF funds as it became part of the systematic campaign to unseat them and to weaken the progressive bloc. 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. He was physically weakened as a result of harassment, threats, and stress he suffered under a government. He stood by his principles and refused to be cowed by Malacanang through bribery and other pressures.

Besides his illustrious records, Ka Bel remained humble and lived simple. 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.

It is not just but proper and necessary to pay Ka Bel our highest tribute he deserves. We will commemorate his death with pride. KMU-Cordillera joins the working class and the Filipino people in saluting Ka Bel and his exemplary service to the people.

In Metro Manila, there will be the unveiling of marker of ka Bel at Plaza Miranda, a marker to symbolize his martyrdom. The activity will be spearheaded by the Mayor Alfredo Lim, the Manila City Council and the Kilusang Mayo Uno. The Manila local government unit declared May 20 as Beltran Day.

Ipaglaban ang P125 Dagdag Sahod Across-the-board, across-the-nation!
Legislate House Bill 1722 or Wage Bill!
Ipagpatuloy ang Laban ni Ka Bel!
Patalsikin ang Pasistang Rehimen US-Arroyo!

Reference: Leonida Tundagui
May 18, 2009