‘ATTACK ON HR’ | NUPL lawyer shot dead in Negros Occidental; HRW calls for probe

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NOVEMBER 7, 2018 – A human rights lawyer and founding member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) was killed last night by unidentified motorcycle-riding men in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, the group reported.

Atty. Benjamin Tarug Ramos was reportedly taking a break outside a store when two riding-in-tandem assailants gunned him down. The 56-year-old lawyer sustained four gunshot wounds but was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.

In a statement, NUPL described Ramos as the “go-to” pro-bono lawyer of peasants, environmentalists, activists, political prisoners and mass organizations in Negros for the longest time.

Prior to his killing, Ramos handled the case of “Mabinay 6” which included University of the Philippines Cebu alumna Myles Albasin arrested with five others in March 2018 over an alleged fight with the military in Mabinay, Negros Oriental.

He further served as legal counsel to the kin of the victims in the “Sagay 9” Massacre, who were members of the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers performing a “bungkalan” activity in Hacienda Nene, Negros Occidental.

“Earlier, he was maliciously and irresponsibly tagged in a public poster by the Philippine police as among the so-called personalities of the underground armed movement,” the NUPL also reported.

With his death, the number of lawyers killed under the Duterte administration is now at 34, the NUPL claimed.

“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.”

International group Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, denounced the attack against Ramos and called for an immediate probe on the incident.

“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,” its Asia Division researcher Carlos Conde said.