We, in Karapatan-Central Visayas, reiterate our commitment to serve the people as our highest tribute to the passing of people’s legislator Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran. On his wake we vow to pursue his cause for national emancipation and systemic change. Modest even in death, the poorest legislator in the history of Congress passed away in May 20, 2008 in a manner that reflects a humble yet complex life dedicated in the service of his people.

In his early youth, Ka Bel volunteered as courier for the guerillas during the Japanese occupation in World War II. This indubitable spirit saw him through life becoming a farm worker, gasoline boy, messenger, bus driver and taxi driver. He also worked odd jobs to support his schooling in his 20’s. At the same time, he organized taxi drivers against unfair labor practices. He would later help establish several labor federations and unions and become the stalwart of nationalist unionism with the likes of Felixberto Olalia.

Like any patriot, Ka Bel has been the subject of vicious attacks by the reactionary state through its mercenary AFP and PNP. A human rights defender, Ka Bel endured through it all.

During the Marcos dictatorship, he was arrested and detained. He escaped in 1984 and went underground to continue to organize peasants and workers. He resurfaced when granted amnesty by the Aquino government in 1986. He returned to the frontline of the protests actions against the succession of betrayal of the EDSA Revolution by the procession of presidents.

In 2006, the worst of these presidents would send Ka Bel in jail and under hospital arrest for trumped up charges of rebellion. The Supreme Court would later dismiss the charges, but his unjustified detention took a toll on his health.

His heart ailment notwithstanding, Ka Bel’s worst enemy is the tyrannical rule of the ruling elite. In this fight, he became the champion of the working class and the toiling masses. Ka Bel fought to uphold and defend human rights in all dimensions.

Thus, we honor him by continuing the fight for freedom, peace and social justice in defense of the rights of the toiling masses and the working class.###


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