A FOUNDING member of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) was gunned down in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental on Tuesday night, Nov. 6, the 34th lawyer killed under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Atty. Benjamin T. Ramos, 56, was shot by two unidentified gunmen in Barangay 5 at 10:30 p.m., according to the police report.
He sustained three gunshot wounds and was rushed to Holy Mother of Mercy Kabankalan City Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.
“These beastly attacks by treacherous cowards cannot go on. Not a few of our members have been attacked and killed before while literally practicing their profession and advocacies in the courts, in rallies, in picket lines, in urban poor communities, and in fact-finding missions,” said NUPL President Edre U. Olalia in a statement on Wednesday, Nov. 7.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said the murder of lawyers is also an attack on the rule of law.
“Each unsolved and un-prosecuted murder of the officers of our courts of law is an attack against the rule of law. It cripples or paralyzes the moving parts of the justice system upon the well-founded apprehension that the attacks are a direct result of the discharge of their functions,” the IBP statement read.
International group Human Rights Watch (HRW) also denounced the killing of Mr. Ramos and described his death as a product of “impunity” under the Duterte administration.
“His murder is a further indictment of the impunity that has worsened under the administration of President Duterte. It is a blow to the human-rights movement in the country. We demand an impartial investigation into Ramos’s murder and the many other attacks against lawyers in the Philippines and that the authorities bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Carlos H. Conde, researcher for the HRW Asia division of HRW.
Mr. Ramos was the lawyer of University of the Philippines Cebu alumna Myles Albasin and five of her companions who where arrested last March after allegedly firing at government troops.
They tested negative for gun powder residue.
Mr. Ramos and his colleagues at NUPL also provided pro bono services to the keen of the victims of the Sagay 9 massacre.
Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has started its investigation on the case following an order from the Department of Justice.
Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said he instructed the NBI to include the case of Mr. Ramos in the investigation on the Sagay 9 massacre if they find any connection. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras