The Law Society of Ontario expresses grave concern about the murder of lawyer Benjamin Ramos and 33 other lawyers in the Philippines
The Law Society of Ontario expresses grave concern about the murder of lawyer Benjamin Ramos and 33 other lawyers in the Philippines.
According to reports, 34 lawyers have been killed in the Philippines since President Rodrigo Duterte began his presidency in June 2016. Reports indicate that Benjamin Ramos was the 34th lawyer killed during his presidency, and reports further identify the following six lawyers who were recently shot and killed as a result of exercising their professional duties: Mia Manuelita Mascarinas-Green on February 16, 2017 (for whom the Law Society has previously intervened in a letter attached, for your ease of reference); Jonah John Ungab on February 19, 2018; Joey Galit on June 21, 2018; Rafael Atotubo on August 23, 2018; Connie Del Rio Villamor on September 24 2018; and Edeljulio Romero on September 28, 2018.
During a speech at the 19th Founding Anniversary of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption in Manilla on August 16, 2017, President Duterte instructed the national police to not be intimidated by human rights lawyers who were conducting investigations in the thousands of deaths of individuals that you referred to as “drug addicts and dealers”. According to reports, the President also instructed police to shoot lawyers if they are obstructing justice. Lawyers are being harassed, threatened and killed at alarming rates, and we implore President Duterte to publicly denounce these activities and to take immediate steps to ensure that lawyers can safely perform their legitimate professional duties.
As mentioned earlier, Benjamin Ramos was the lawyer most recently killed in the Philippines. Benjamin Ramos was a human rights lawyer and founding member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NULP). The NULP specializes in pro-bono work for low-income clients whose families have been targeted by the state.
On November 6, 2018, Benjamin Ramos was reportedly shot and killed in Negros Occidental by two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle. The shooting took place as he left his office in the evening. Benjamin Ramos was shot three times and declared dead on arrival at the hospital.