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Ka Fort: Martyr and Hero of the People

Setyembre 25, 2005

The Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), including its consultants, staffers and volunteers, extends its deepest condolences to Luz Fortuna and their three children on the death of labor leader Diosdado 'Ka Fort' Fortuna.

The NDFP strongly condemns his brutal murder. He was a principled labor leader who consistently and courageously worked for workers' rights and welfare. It is for this reason that he was mercilessly killed at around 6:00 pm on September 22, 2005. He had just left the Nestle picket line in Cabuyao, Laguna to visit his sick grandson when motorcycle-riding assassins shot him twice in the chest.

Reaching the age of 50 years, he had served the militant labor movement for 29 years. Since 1976, he had been a labor leader of the multinational company Nestle workers' union. He became president of the Union of Filipro Employees - Drug, Food & Allied Industries (UFE-DFA-KMU) in Cabuyao, Laguna after the former union president, Meliton Roxas, was murdered in 1989.

Fortuna led the workers in vigilantly manning the Nestle picket lines since their strike started in January 2002. They were constantly harassed and threatened but they never let down their guard. In June 2003, more than 50 striking workers were injured when a combined force of police, company security personnel and hired goons tried to break up their picket line. The strikers have stood their ground and they remain on strike today.

Ka Fort was also the chairperson of the Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (PAMANTIK or the Unity of Workers in Southern Tagalog). It is the regional chapter of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) in Southern Tagalog. By virtue of his resoluteness and militancy for the working class, Ka Fort reached the high position of member of the KMU National Council.

He held several positions in other organizations. He was the chairperson of the Anakpawis Party List-Southern Tagalog and Co-Chairperson of the National Coalition for the Protection of Workers' Rights-Southern Tagalog (NCPWR-ST).

Despite dangerous conditions and threats to his life, he remained steadfast as a critic of the Arroyo government's repressive policies and programs. He spoke out firmly against the intensifying militarization and the growing number of human rights violations committed by the military and police in the Southern Tagalog Region.

On September 21, the day before he was murdered, Ka Fort warned about the growing threat of militarization on the labor front. His death is a confirmation of this threat. The Arroyo puppet regime and its imperialist masters are responsible for his murder. They are capable of going to any extent in order to exploit and oppress the working class.

Ka Fort committed his life to serving the people in the struggle for national liberation and democracy. This shining example is a legacy that his family, friends, fellow activists and comrades can be proud of. He will continue to inspire us to carry the struggle forward. He will continue to live in the hearts and minds of each one of us who shares his commitment.

For the NDFP Negotiating Panel:
LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson

For the Consultants and Advisers:
Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON
Chief Political Consultant



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