| Trade Unionist, Kilusang Mayo Uno (1955-2008) |
Representative, Anakpawis Party List
| June 30, 2007 - May 20, 2008
|Born|| January 7, 1933|
|Died|| May 20, 2008|
|Spouse||Rosario Soto Beltran|
|Parents||Paciano Beltran, Valentina Bertiz|
Crispin 'Ka Bel' Beltran (January 7, 1933 - May 20, 2008) is a Filipino politician and labor leader. As a member of the 13th Congress of the Philippines with the Anakpawis or the 'Toiling Masses Partylist' and former chair of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), a militant and progressive labor movement, he has been a major figure in contemporary Filipino history.
Beltran was charged by the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) on February 27, 2006 with sedition and rebellion, along with four other members of Congress: Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casiño, Joel Virador, and Liza Maza. To avoid arrest, the group, henceforth known as the Batasan five, found shelter at the Batasan Complex. Beltran, however, was detained and incarcerated. He was later brought to the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City due to the deterioration of his health in prison. He was put under hospital arrest for more than a year and was released only after the Supreme Court ordered the dismissal of his case. As an active critic of the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, his incarceration was seen as part of a recent policy of political repression in the Philippines, perpetuated by Oplan Banta Laya.
"Free Ka Bel" Movement
An international campaign was organized calling for the immediate release of Beltran. One group, the 'Free Ka Bel Movement' had local chapters in Southern Tagalog, Davao and Cebu, with international chapters in Hong Kong, Japan, the US, Canada, Australia and Switzerland. <ref name="test1">Free Ka Bel Movement.</ref> Some 99 parliamentarians coming from 11 countries and 13 parliaments around the world supported Beltran's release, including the Netherlands, Cambodia, Burma, New Zealand, Belgium, Chile, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, the European Parliament, Switzerland, Denmark, and the Flemish Parliament.<ref name="test2">Bayan Muna, List of support from various Parliamentarians.</ref> <ref name="test3">Keith Locke MP, "Helen Clark should help free Filipino MPs", 14 March 2006.</ref>
In June 2007, at the plenary of Congress, Beltran defended his right to speak against corruption, saying "I am innocent of the rebellion charge against me. It’s neither a sin nor against the law to speak against graft and corruption and the killing of hundreds of innocent civilians." <ref name="test4">RP loses veteran labor leader, staunch Arroyo critic. Article on GMANews.tv, posted May 20, 2008, accessed May 20, 2008.</ref>
In the morning of May 20, 2008, Beltran suffered a fall from the roof of his home in Muzon, San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan and died as a result. He had been due to deliver a privilege speech before Congress on power rates and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and to file a bill for the repeal of the Value Added Tax on electricity.<ref name="test5">Doctors declare ‘Ka Bel’ dead due to severe head injuries. Article on GMANews.tv, posted May 20, 2008, accessed May 20, 2008.</ref>