Colleagues of slain lawyer to seek probe of 2 military men for link to killing
BACOLOD CITY — Colleagues of slain human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos Jr. will ask law enforcement agencies to investigate two military personnel for possible involvement in the killing of Ramos.
Edre Olalia, national president of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), said they were gathering information and evidence to back up possible legal actions against Cpl Rodolfo Alemen Jr. and Makoy Villahermosa.
“It is possible that the two or their proxies, like paid assassins or militiamen, could be involved in the killing of (Ramos) and other cases of harassment,” Olalia told the INQUIRER.
In an earlier interview, Clarissa Ramos, widow of the slain lawyer, also wanted the two to be investigated after policemen detained them in Sipalay City.
Alemen and Villahermosa were detained after NUPL lawyers and activists sought police assistance after one of the motorcycle-riding men allegedly brandished a handgun as they passed the Sipalay City gymnasium on Saturday where the wake for Ramos was being held.
The two were also seen tailing a convoy of NUPL lawyers and human rights activists from Bacolod City to Sipalay City.
But Col. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Army’s 303rd Brigade, dismissed the allegations even as he confirmed that the men were military personnel.
“They have mission orders and they were not harassing them. These Leftists have a propensity to spread lies,” Arevalo told the INQUIRER.
Arevalo said the two were tasked to “monitor and provide security” to the convoy which included Olalia and other NUPL members and officials of the human rights group Karapatan.
“If something bad happens to them, they will again blame the government. That’s why the two were there,” he said.
But he said the two could have been more discreet as not to cause any alarm.
Arevalo said they were ready for “legal maneuvers” and accusations by militant organizations. He also dismissed repeated allegations linking them to the killing of Ramos.
Judge Wenie Espinosa of the Sipalay City Municipal Trial Court in Cities ordered the release of Alemen and Villahermosa on Monday after their lawyer posted bail of ₱3,000 each for grave threats.
NUPL lawyers filed an attempted murder complaint against the two men but the Sipalay City Prosecutor’s Office downgraded the complaint to grave threats, citing a lack of clear indication to warrant an attempted murder complaint.
Olalia said they were questioning why only one firearm was recovered from the two men when there were witnesses that saw the two military personnel each with a handgun.
He also pointed out that one of the men who identified himself as Makoy Villahermosa did not have an identification card or documents and could have given a fake name.
A gunman accompanied by an accomplice on board a motorcycle shot dead Ramos on Nov. 6 in front of a convenience store in Kabankalan City also in Negros Occidental.
Ramos was an NUPL founding member and secretary general of its Negros chapter.
About 1,000 mostly farmers attended his burial at the Sipalay City cemetery on Sunday.###
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