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
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
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
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