Rights lawyer gunned down in Negros

“It is a painful price we have to pay sometimes in the service of the people and as a pledge to the next generations we will leave behind.”

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – A human rights lawyer who assisted the farmers during the aftermath of the infamous Sagay massacre was gunned down last night, Nov. 6, at around 10:30 p.m. in Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental.

Benjamin Ramos sustained three gunshot wounds. He was rushed to Holy Mother of Mercy Kabankalan City Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.

Ramos was 56.

In a statement, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers described him as a “passionate, dedicated and articulate yet amiable and jolly” person who was, for the longest time, “the run-to pro-bono lawyer of peasants, environmentalists, activists, political prisoners and mass organizations in Negros.”

Prior to the shooting incident, Ramos, a founding member of the NUPL and secretary general of its chapter in Negros Occidental, was a victim of red-tagging, with public posters tagging him as a member of the New People’s Army.

“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,” the NUPL said.

Last week, a kidnapping case was filed against human rights lawyer Kathy Panguban, who, too, assisted farmers and rights advocates in the aftermath of the Sagay massacre. The police alleged that Panguban kidnapped a 14-year-old survivor of the massacre but the lawyers group has maintained that the survivor is in the rightful custody of her mother.

“It is a painful price we have to pay sometimes in the service of the people and as a pledge to the next generations we will leave behind,” the group said.

The NUPL said, “But who will defend the defenders? Our clients will.” (http://bulatlat.com)

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