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Crispin "Ka Bel" Beltran, a working class hero passes away

by staff |
May 9, 2008
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NDFP renders the highest honors to Crispin "Ka Bel" Beltran
Great hero of the working class and Filipino people and great internationalist

22 May 2008

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and its seventeen allied organizations deeply mourn the death of Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, great hero of the working class and the Filipino people and a great internationalist in the world-wide anti-imperialist movement. The NDFP conveys its most heartfelt condolences to his wife Ka Osang and their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Ka Bel’s invaluable contribution to the Filipino people’s struggle for national and social liberation is ineradicably carved in the more than sixty years of his militant struggle against foreign and domestic oppressors and exploiters. From the time he joined the resistance against Japanese occupation as a courier for the Filipino guerrilla fighters to his organizing of fellow taxi drivers, organizing militant workers’ federations, opposing the Marcos dictatorship and becoming a political prisoner, then escaping and organizing workers and peasants in the countryside, then becoming the President of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement) and the multi-sectoral alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), to becoming an elected representative in the Philippine Congress, he has compiled a brilliant record of fearlessly fighting for the interests of the working class and the Filipino people.

Ka Bel also distinguished himself as an outstanding internationalist in the world-wide anti-imperialist movement. He attended international conferences and spoke at international demonstrations against imperialist plunder and wars of aggression. He was elected the first chairman of the International Coordinating Committee of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle in 2001. Wherever he went, he made a deep impression on the overseas Filipino communities, the trade unionists from other countries, and parliamentarians and officials of governmental and intergovernmental institutions, thereby winning valuable international support for the struggle of the working class and the Filipino people.

For all his great accomplishments and positions of honor he attained, he remained an unassuming person, closely integrated with the toiling masses and working people, exuding a radiant winning style of leadership. He was fearless and uncompromising in fighting oppressors and standing up for the interests of the people but very amiable to the working people and allies, especially to those suffering from injustice.

His sharp analytical mind has been invaluable to the people’s struggle for national and social liberation, especially at critical times. When those who wanted to derail the people’s struggle aimed to mislead the workers’ movement in the early 1990s, Ka Bel stood like a pillar of strength and wisdom to oppose the renegades and help keep the workers’ movement and the people’s overall struggle in the correct direction.

Ka Bel did not hesitate to show his support for NDFP Chief Political Consultant, Prof. Jose Maria Sison, by attending the hearing of Prof. Sison’s case at the Luxembourg Court. Whenever a delegation of the NDFP visited the Philippines, he would welcome them. When an NDFP delegation visited the Philippines in 2001 to attend an international peace solidarity conference in Manila, Ka Bel and his fellow workers warmly received the NDFP delegation with a rousing candle-lit welcome.

As President of the Anakpawis party list and its representative in Congress, he epitomized the worker-peasant alliance, the firm foundation of the national united front. It is known that after he escaped from the Marcos prison in 1984, he integrated with and helped organize peasants in the countryside.

Ka Bel’s unassuming style of leadership is narrated in innumerable stories of his friends and co-workers. Two instances while he was abroad also demonstrate this characteristic of Ka Bel. After joining several groups that went to Luxembourg for the hearing on Prof. Sison’s case, when the car he was riding in got stuck in a stretch of muddy road, he went down and helped push out the car. His coat and pants got spattered with mud, but he took all this good-naturedly. After being one of the main speakers at the international demonstration in Vancouver, he carried some of the placards and other materials of the demonstration and walked back with the organizers to return them. He did this without much ado. It was all very natural to him.

Wherever Ka Bel was, whether in the streets of Hong Kong denouncing the imperialist plunder through the World Trade Organization, in Vancouver exposing the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) speaking to thousands of demonstrators from different lands, in the parliament of the streets in Manila and other parts of the Philippines, or in the halls of the Philippine Congress, his uncompromising stand for the workers and oppressed stood high and strong. His message, clearly shown in the streamers honoring him, with his clenched fist raised and revolutionary determination written all over his countenance, rings loud and clear: “The struggle goes on!”

The inspiration of Ka Bel’s life and commitment as a great proletarian fighter will live on in the hearts and minds of those who carry on the struggle and cause he selflessly lived for.