We were deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Ka Bel, news which shook those close to him, but also so many around the world. We wish to add our voices to the multitudes that are mourning his death, but also celebrating his life. His was a lifetime full of struggle against injustices, which bore uncountable accomplishments and contributions. Ka Bel’s contribution to the fight for a just and fair society for all people of the world will not be forgotten.
During our delegation to the Philippines in May and June of 2006 to investigate the extrajudicial killings and the political persecution of women’s rights activists, political leaders and members of the opposition movement, we had the honor of meeting Ka Bel. Unfortunately, our visit was not under the best of circumstances. We met with Ka Bel in his hospital room while he was under guard in the Philippine Heart Center, detained after a warrantless arrest. The series of violations of his rights beginning with the warrantless arrest paid a toll on his health. However, during our visit Ka Bel showed high spirits and drew energy to fight for the people despite his serious health problems. He imparted valuable knowledge for our investigation and shared the story of his current political persecution. Ka Bel was not new to this persecution and his strength against those that would bring him down was immense. It was obvious that the many supporting the fight for justice and fairness and also his personal struggle helped him stay strong to continue the battle.
Ka Bel made a deep impression on us, which we will carry and draw strength from as we challenge injustice despite adversity. As we learn more about this amazing individual from the messages of solidarity in the time of his passing, we grow and are refreshed to continue this international struggle.
We lend our sympathies to all of those that are pained by Ka Bel’s passing.
The Delegation of Women Lawyers to the Philippines
Tina Monshipour Foster