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Pioneer of militant transport movement, ‘Ka Roda’ dies, 75


A pioneer of the militant transport sector during the Marcos years, Medardo Roda, died of cardiac arrest at age 75 on Sunday. Known as “Ka Roda," he who would have turned 76 on October 27. He passed away at around 2:00 p.m. Sunday at the East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City. "Ka Roda, arguably one of the most well known and undoubtedly one of the most well-loved transport leaders the country has ever had, is the Chairman Emeritus of PISTON (Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide) until he died," said the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), an alliance of progressive labor organzations. "PISTON is one of the federations under Kilusang Mayo Uno and is the organization where Ka Roda concretized his struggle for nationalism and genuine democracy for more than 30 years," the KMU said on its website on Monday. According to the KMU, Roda suffered his fifth stroke on September 2. He had multiple seizures before he passed away on Sunday. Roda earlier suffered strokes in 2002 and 2003. Although he became paralyzed, he continued to give advice on drivers' and people's movements, the KMU said. Roda left behind his wife, Teresita Yunzon Velasquez, five daughters, and two sons. His remains will lie at St. Peter Memorial Chapel, Quezon Avenue in Quezon City, starting on Monday. A tribute to Roda Drivers, workers, and people’s organizations are expected to pay tribute to him during his wake. "KMU was then consolidating its ‘transport committee’ which led to the founding of PISTON in 1981. In July 1981, Ka Roda was elected as Third Vice President of the organization. After a few months, he eventually took over as President of PISTON," the KMU website said. One of Roda's first campaigns was the scrapping of Presidential Decree 1605, which cancels a driver’s license on his third offense, during the Marcos administration. Roda also led protests against the alleged exploitation of drivers, oil price hikes, and people’s issues. "On September 5, 1983, he was arrested and charged with rebellion under the Arrest, Seize and Seizure Order (ASSO). He was arrested together with other KMU leaders, like Crispin “Ka Bel" Beltran, who were ‘cracked down’ in August to September of that year," the KMU website said. Roda was also arrested during the administration of the late former President Corazon Aquino, in 1988 and 1990. From farmer to driver Born in Libmanan, Camarines Sur, Roda started tilling the fields at age 12. He later moved to Cavite to live with his brother, a bodyguard of former Senator Justiniano Montano. After attending automotive school in 1957, he assisted in managing the car rental business of the senator's son Ciriaco. He left the job in 1960 and started driving a taxi but quit after being held up four times. He later started driving a passenger jeep. In July 1981, Roda was elected third vice president of PISTON and eventually became its president. –VVP, GMANews.TV
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