Kin bewail gov’t inaction on murder of Negros lawyer | Inquirer News
ATTACK ON RIGHTS WORKERS, ACTIVISTS

Kin bewail gov’t inaction on murder of Negros lawyer

/ 04:16 AM November 11, 2019

ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — A year after her husband and human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos Jr. was gunned down, Clarissa Ramos is still seeking justice.

But even as her family and friends marked the first anniversary of Ramos’ death on Nov. 6, she feared that they would be arrested amid the recent roundup of activists in Negros Occidental province and Manila.

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“We have kept silent, hoping that the police will pursue my husband’s killers. But the attacks and threats against our colleagues have not stopped. We are expecting that any time they will also raid our office,” Clarissa told the Inquirer.

A gunman, accompanied by an accomplice, shot Ramos dead on Nov. 6, 2018, in front of a store in Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental.

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He is among the 43 lawyers, judges and prosecutors gunned down under the Duterte administration, according to the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL).

No progress

Ramos was an NUPL founding member and secretary general of its Negros chapter. He also cofounded the nongovernment organization Paghidaet sa Kauswagan Development Group (PDG) and handled mostly cases of farmers, political prisoners and victims of human rights violations.

No arrest has been made and police have not identified those responsible for the killing.

Clarissa said the police had informed her in July that there was no progress because the gunman and his accomplice wore masks. She said the unresolved murder of her husband proved that the killing was “state-orchestrated.”

“Ben was publicly vilified and accused as a [New People’s Army] leader by the military in forums and in statements before he was killed,” she said.

“There’s a lack of any significant effort by the government to run after his killers. They will not run after them because they (government) are responsible,” she said.

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Police and military officials have repeatedly denied being involved in the death of Ramos and others killed by unidentified perpetrators.

Clarissa said the lack of progress in the investigation of her husband’s killing was in contrast to the continued threats received by PDG staff members, including altered photographs with their faces inside coffins.

The PDG staff and the Ramos family had been sleepless since police and soldiers arrested 57 people in raids on offices of progressive organizations in Bacolod and Escalante cities recently.

“We are expecting to be the next target because they obviously want to silence all those critical of the government, even organizations helping farmers like the PDG,” Clarissa said.

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