Police assures thorough probe of Negrense lawyer’s slay

BACOLOD CITY — The chief of Police Regional Office (PRO)-Western Visayas condemned the killing of Negrense lawyer Benjamin Ramos Jr. as he ordered for the immediate conduct of investigation.

Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, police regional director, said on Wednesday the police will work to serve justice to Ramos and his family.

“We assure the family of the victim of a thorough investigation to ensure the immediate arrest of the perpetrators so that justice will be served to the victim and his family. We will provide update once the investigation has been completed,” Bulalacao said in a statement.

Ramos, 56, who was among the counsels for the victims of the Sagay City massacre, was shot to death by unidentified motorcycle-riding assailants at his hometown in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental on Tuesday night.

The lawyer, a resident of Barangay Binicuil, was the secretary-general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)-Negros Occidental Chapter, and was part of a Quick Reaction Team for the Sagay 9 fact-finding mission.
According to the police report, Ramos was killed about 10:30 p.m. on Rojas Street in Barangay 5. He was standing in front of a store when one of the two assailants shot him.

The victim succumbed to three gunshot wounds on the chest, the report added.

Supt. Jonel Guadalupe, chief of Kabankalan City Police Station, in an interview on Wednesday, said the investigators are looking into Ramos’ work as a people’s lawyer as he handled various cases, including murder.

He had represented suspected rebels and suspected drug users, according to the PRO-Western Visayas.
Guadalupe added that the victim’s wife said Ramos had received death threats.

Meanwhile, the NUPL, headed by president Edre Olalia, said in a press statement that they are “shocked, devastated and enraged at the premeditated cold-blooded murder of our colleague and fellow people’s lawyer, Atty. Benjamin Tarug Ramos.”

It added that “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.”

Ramos’ colleagues in the NUPL, where he was one of the founding members, described him as “passionate, dedicated and articulate yet amiable and jolly.”

“Despite limitations, he was for the longest time the ‘go-to’ pro-bono lawyer of peasants, environmentalists, activists, political prisoners and mass organizations in Negros,” they said.

In a press conference in Bacolod, Karapatan-Negros, Kabankalan-based Paghida-et sa Kauswagan Development Group (PDG) Inc. and their allied organizations called for justice for the slain lawyer.

Felipe Levy Gelle Jr., spokesperson of PDG Inc., said in a statement that Ramos was a “people’s lawyer and staunch advocate of people’s rights in Negros Island.”

Ramos was the second lawyer killed in Negros Occidental this year.

Last August, Rafael Atotubo, 62, who was known for representing suspects in illegal drug cases, was also gunned down in Bacolod City. Nanette Guadalquiver and Erwin Nicavera/PNA-northboundasia.com