Tribute to Ka Medardo Roda, man of the masses and proletarian leader

Negotiating Panel
National Democratic Front of the Philippines

We mourn the death of Ka Medardo Roda, man of the masses and proletarian leader. We convey our most heartfelt condolences to his beloved wife, Teresa Yunzon Velasquez, their seven children, to all his comrades in Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON) and his many comrades and friends in other organizations of the toiling masses.

He tilled the fields as a peasant youth, then became a taxi driver and subsequently a jeepney driver. He was active in the local organization of jeepney drivers in Metro Manila and was elected their president. In 1981, when the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU – May First Movement) was consolidating its transport committee, PISTON was established and within months, Ka Roda became its President.

Under his leadership PISTON became the biggest nationwide organization of jeepney drivers and transport workers. It launched effective transport strikes and militant demonstrations against the fascist Marcos dictatorship and the oil monopolies. Ka Roda was fearless and outspoken in denouncing the dictatorship's anti-worker and anti-people policies. He led rallies against the repeated oil price hikes.

He was arrested and detained several times on trumped up charges of rebellion. Undaunted by the threats and harassment of the dictator who branded him “the most rebellious driver the Philippines ever had”, he never wavered in his commitment to the cause of the proletariat.

Even in the most difficult and tense moments, he kept his cool. His sense of humour and quick wit were well known. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, the President of KMU and a very close friend of Ka Roda, loved to tell stories about Ka Roda's sense of humor and quick wit under difficult situations. Ka Roda loved the masses, and they in turn loved him and looked up to him as their leader.

Ka Roda has made a sterling contribution to the advance to the people's struggle for national and social liberation, demonstrating in practice over three decades the effective leadership of the working class in the people's democratic revolution. His legacy as a man of the masses and an outstanding proletarian leader will live on in the hearts of the proletariat and people of the Philippines.


Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel