November 7, 2018
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.
7 November 2018
Justice for Environmental defender Atty. Ben Ramos!
The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment strongly condemns the killing of Atty. Benjamin Ramos, a member of Paghidaet sa Kauswagan (PDG), a group advocating for sustainable and environment-friendly agriculture in Negros Occidental province. He was also among the leaders of Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG), an organization which works for pro-people and pro-environment agricultural policies and technologies in the country.
Atty. Ben was a staunch environmental defender. Atty. Ben was an effective leader in opposing the commercialization of Monsanto’s Bt corn which farmers have complained of negatively affecting their farm productivity and further tying their dependency to toxic agricultural inputs. With his colleagues in MASIPAG and the environmentalist community, he also pushed for the creation of biosafety standards and regulations in the Philippines which has hitherto not existed.
He and his organization PDG was also involved in the anti-mining campaign to prevent Colet Mines to operate and cause destruction in the hinterland forests of Sipalay City in Negros. He also supported the interests and rights of land defenders of Negros, as part and parcel of his advocacy of sustainable agriculture. Before his death, he was one of the lawyers of the families of the peasants slain in the infamous Sagay Masssacre which remains unresolved.
It is with great sadness we have lost another people’s lawyer and another environmental defender. Ben’s killing occurred at the eve of botanist and environmental defender Leonard Co’s 8th death anniversary. Injustice continues as eight years have passed and not a single perpetrator behind Leonard’s death has been brought behind bars and Duterte government remains inutile in its obligations to bring justice to the slain environmental defender. The DOJ even downgraded the charges against the soldiers that shot the botanist from murder to homicide, a lesser charge.
We are seething with anger on the ongoing impunity and injustice facing environmental defenders under the autocratic government of President Rodrigo Duterte. Environmental defenders will and must continue to resist the Duterte government which is perpetuating a system hostile to environmental defenders but continues to allow environmental destruction.
The perpetrators and masterminds behind Atty. Ben’s death must be tracked and held to account for their crime. Justice for Atty Ben Ramos! Justice for all victims of extrajudicial killings! Defend our environmendal defenders!#
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
Our hearts bleed for the murder of Atty. Ben Ramos.
On day one of the arrest of Myles and the five others, Atty. Ben came regardless of border and distance because no one was there to assist them on legal matters yet. As the Secretary General of NUPL in Negros Occidental, he chose to be more human and showed up to assess the Mabinay 6 case. He escorted the mothers to see their children at the jail. He slept in an office and ate with us. From then on, he never missed a single court appearance together with the other NUPL lawyers for Mabinay 6. He knew he was targeted, but it didn’t deter his spirit to take the cases of the ordinary folks including Mabinay 6. He always braved the more than two hours traveling to attend court hearings. He made his house a home to the families he defended. He eased tension with humor.
In the short time we spent together, we saw a man of compassion and dedication to the less fortunate. He lived for the people without fear. This legacy he left behind is etched in the hearts of the people he served.
JUSTICE FOR ATTY. BEN RAMOS!
(BAYAN MUNA Partylist Facebook, 07/11/18)