By Joey Natividad
LEGASPI CITY (BicolToday.com/19-May-12) – Members of the biggest transport group here in the Bicol Region gave posthumous respect for their former head who was killed by government troopers during a firefight with New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas on May 8 at Donsol, Sorsogon.
Killed in the Sorsogon clash was Joel Ascutia, who was the regional head of CONDOR-PISTON in 2005 before he joined the NPA last year after he was marked for death by military death squads.
CONDOR PISTON said, in an emailed statement, that they honor Ka Joel’s death as a big sacrifice and martyr in the struggle for liberation and attainment of national democracy.
“Ka Joel’s death will serve as inspiration for others who struggle for the rights of drivers, workers in the transport sector, and for those who fight for the liberation of the Filipino masses from exploitation, oppression, and economic enslavement,” said Eduardo Ferreras, CONDOR-PISTON president.
Ascutia was born on September 27, 1966 in Daraga, Albay, and grew up with family members in Antipolo City. Eldest of 7 siblings, they lived a poor life, his father an ordinary worker. He worked at the Universal Robina Corporation in the 1980’s, and became a labor union member. In 1989, he transferred to Legaspi City and earned his keeps as tricycle driver. He became Secretary-General in 1991 of a tricycle union in Legaspi. Then, he became, in November1995, the Secretary-General of CONDOR-PISTON after its congress, and on its 5th congress on April 2005, he was elected as Regional President. In 2008, he was elevated as Deputy Secretary General of PISTON-National.
He was involved in union organizing among workers, transport operators and drivers. He led series of protest actions against oil-price hikes, fights against government repressive policies, and other protest actions in sympathy with other militant, cause-oriented sectors.
His life changed when two (2) gunmen shot and wounded him on July 13, 2009 in Daraga, Albay. The gunmen, until now, are unidentified. He was shot while preparing for the Pambansang Welgang Transportasyon during that time.
On August, 2011, he resigned from the Regional Executive Council of CONDOR-Bicol and PISTON-National.
CONDOR-PISTON, in the statement, said their members give their salutes and highest tributes for Ka Joel in choosing to sacrifice his life for the people’s struggle, while respecting his decision in joining the NPA. [BicolToday.com]
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