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NUPL: Probe soldiers’ link to lawyer’s slay

TRIBUTE Farmers, activists and lawyers call for justice as they pay tribute to slain human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos Jr. during his funeral in Sipalay City. —NESTOR P. BURGOS JR

BACOLOD CITY—Colleagues of slain human rights lawyer, Benjamin Ramos Jr., will ask law enforcement agencies to investigate two military men for possible involvement in the killing.

Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), said they were gathering evidence to support possible legal actions against the two men, identified as Cpl. Rodolfo Alemen Jr. and Makoy Villahermosa.

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“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.

Ramos, a NUPL founding member and secretary general of its Negros chapter, was shot dead on Nov. 6 in front of a convenience store in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental province.

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In an earlier interview, Clarissa Ramos, widow of Ramos, said she also wanted the two men to be investigated after they were detained by the police in Sipalay City.

Alemen and Villahermosa were detained after NUPL lawyers and activists sought police assistance on Saturday when one of the motorcycle-riding men allegedly brandished a handgun as they passed the Sipalay City gymnasium where the wake for Ramos was being held.

The two men were also seen tailing a convoy of NUPL lawyers and human rights activists from Bacolod City to Sipalay City.

Mission orders

But Col. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Army’s 303rd Brigade, dismissed the allegations.

“They had mission orders and they were not harassing them. These leftists have a propensity to spread lies,” he said.

Arevalo said the two men 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.

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“If something bad happened to them, they would again blame the government. That’s why the two were there,” he said.

Arevalo also dismissed allegations linking them to the killing of Ramos.

Grave threats

Judge Wenie Espinosa of the Municipal Trial Court in Sipalay City ordered the release of Alemen and Villahermosa on Monday after their lawyer posted bail of P3,000 each for grave threats.

NUPL lawyers filed an attempted murder complaint against the two men but the Sipalay City prosecutor’s office downgraded the case to grave threats, citing 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 witnesses had seen them armed with a handgun each.

He also said one of the men, who identified himself as Villahermosa, did not have an identification card and could have given a false name.

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TAGS: Benjamin Ramos Jr., Murder, news, NUPL, Philippines
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