A human rights lawyer was shot dead in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental last night, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) confirmed today.
The victim was identified as Atty. Benjamin Tarug Ramos, 56, who was shot by unidentified motorcycle-riding assailants. The lawyer was the secretary-general for the NUPL Negros Occidental Chapter.
The SunStar reported that Ramos was smoking near a store in Barangay (Village) 5 when the gunmen shot him around 10:20pm last night.
The NUPL said Ramos sustained three gunshot wounds at the right back side and the upper left of his chest. The victim was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.
“We are shocked, devastated and enraged at the premeditated cold-blooded murder of our colleague and fellow people’s lawyer, Atty. Benjamin Tarug Ramos,” the NUPL said in a statement.
“And we the lawyers of the people will not be cowed, will not blink, will not retreat, we will not look the other way, and we will stand our ground,” the statement added.
Ramos was a lawyer of peasants, environmentalists, activists, political prisoners, and mass organizations in Negros, according to the NUPL.
ABS-CBN News reported that he helped assist the National Federation of Sugar Workers when nine of their members were killed by unidentified assailants at Hacienda Nene in Sagay City just last month.
He was also one of the lawyers of the Mabinay 6 — a group composed of University of the Philippines Cebu alumna Myles Albasin and five of her co-accused, all of whom were arrested in March in Mabinay, Negros Oriental and tagged as communist rebels after allegedly getting into a firefight with the Philippine Army’s troops. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported, however, that they were tested negative for gunpowder residue.
In April, Ramos was tagged as a suspected communist rebel along with other personalities in a poster which was disseminated in the town of Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental.