BAGUIO CITY (Feb. 23) — People’s ogranizations supporting the Anakpawis party list held a march rally here Friday calling for the immediate release of Anakpawis Congressman Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran .
Leonida Tundagui of the Kilusan Mayo Uno-Cordillera said the activity also commemorates the anniversary of Ka Bel’s arrest and detention, on February 25 last year. She said the activity also coincides with the anniversary of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Presidential Proclamation 1017 (February 24, 2006) and EDSA people Power 1 (February 22-26, 1986).
Tundagui said Beltran was one of the first victims of the PP 1017 that placed the country under state of national emergency. She said Beltran was arrested on trumped up charges.
Daisy Bagni of the Organisasyon dagiti Nakurapay nga Umili ti Syudad (Ornus) said the urban poor in the city are saddened by Beltran’s detention.
“Apay basul kadi ti mangpanday ti linteg a para iti pagsayaatan ti umili? Apay ngarud nga ibalud ti maysa a rehimen ti maysa a congressman nga awan inaramid na nu di itandudo ti pagsayaatan ti umili?” (Is it a crime to draft laws for the welfare of the people? Why should a regime imprison a congressman who did nothing but uphold the welfare of the people?).
Anakpawis members and supporters also renewed the “Bill and Bail Campaign” for Beltran’s release and for the hospital bills. Members and supporters donated money to help him financially.
In his phone patch speech, Beltran greeted the protesters and called on them to continue the struggle for the advancement of the Filipino people especially the marginalized sectors. He added that workers and peasants and the rest of the toiling masses need people in government who genuinely fight for their rights and welfare.
Beltran underscored this coming election poses new challenges for the struggle of the masses. “Ang malaking hamon ng 2007 eleksiyon ay ang maglingkod, makibaka at magtagumpay,” (The big challenge of the 2007 election is to serve, struggle and win) Beltran stressed. He said the struggle for wages, jobs and rights should progress from the street parliaments to the Halls of Congress.
According to Beltran, the long battle for the P125 wage increase for the workers gained ground in the Congress and the Senate because of the continuous persistence of the masses. He reminded the people to be vigilant until the wage hike is implemented because it will surely meet strong opposition from the business sector.
“Kailangan ding ipagpatuloy ang ating panawagan at paghingi ng katarungan para sa mga biktima ng mga politikal na pamamaslang,” (We should also continue to fight for justice for the victims of political killings) Beltran said. He further called on the rallyists to pursue the fight for genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization and the realization of peace and freedom based on social justice.
Beltran was adjudged as the most outstanding and consistent congressman from 2001 to 2004 because of his active participation in the house of congress. He was also named the 2001 and 2003 Filipino of the Year for fighting anti-people policies like Power Purchase Adjustment (PPA) and Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) and for advancing the workers’ demand for P125 wage increase.
Jeanette Ribaya-Cawiding of the Tongtongan Ti Umili-Metro Baguio quoted Beltran’s statement more than 20 years ago when he was charged for rebellion by the administration of the late Ferdinand Marcos, “If serving the interests of the people is a rebellion, then I plead guilty as charged!”
Cawiding said the people should continue to protest the violation of Beltran’s rights as a person and congressman.
Bayan Muna, Gabriela Womens Party and Kabataan partylist also called for the immediate release of Beltran. # Aldwin Quitasol for NORDIS