IBP-NegOcc slams killing of Sagay farmers’ lawyer

By Nanette Guadalquiver

November 8, 2018, 8:08 pm

BACOLOD CITY -- The murder of Negrense lawyer Benjamin Ramos Jr. has been condemned by his colleagues in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Negros Occidental Chapter as they demanded a full-scale investigation from the authorities.

Lawyer Arnel Lapore, IBP head in Negros Occidental, in a statement on Wednesday said their group “strongly denounced another condemnable act against a fellow lawyer and colleague.”

“This atrocity against a civilian lawyer, practically defenseless and unsuspecting, is apparently intended to demoralize and undermine lawyers in practicing their profession and in pursuing their advocacies,” the group said.

On Thursday afternoon, Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, director of Police Regional Office-Western Visayas, said in a statement that investigation on the Ramos case is ongoing.

“As of this time, we already have persons of interest being considered,” he added

Bulalacao said the police is exploring the angle of Ramos’ professional practice as a lawyer, wherein he provided legal assistance to farmers involved in forced land occupation and land grabbing.

“This infuriated the landlords and legitimate land beneficiaries,” he said.

Bulalacao added the police is also investigating the slain lawyers’ engagement in gambling.

“We regret that we cannot divulge material information meantime to avoid jeopardizing the ongoing investigation. Rest assured, the Philippine National Police is diligently doing its mandate to ensure that the perpetrators will be arrested in the soonest possible time,” he added.

The 56-year-old attorney was gunned down by unidentified motorcycle-riding men on Tuesday night at his hometown in Kabankalan City in southern Negros.

Ramos, secretary-general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers-Negros Occidental Chapter, was the second lawyer murdered in Negros Occidental this year after Rafael Atotubo, 62, was also killed by unidentified motorcycle-riding assailants in Bacolod City on August 23.

The Bacolod City Police Office had formed a special investigation task group to investigate and speed up the resolution of the Atotubo case, but no suspect has been charged until now.

Atotubo, known as a defense counsel in drug-related cases, was gunned down in front of his house in Barangay 20 here.

The IBP-Negros Occidental Chapter said that as they previously stated in their statement condemning the killing of Atotubo, “any attack against a lawyer threatens the independence of lawyers and judges, hindering their pursuit towards an effective administration of justice and is a threat against civil liberties if tolerated.”

“We can no longer blindly ignore these blatantly appalling acts and firmly demand that a full-scale investigation be conducted on the matter, including the unresolved killing of another lawyer a few months ago. Once and for all, we need to put a stop and bring to justice the perpetrators of such actions,” the lawyers’ group added. (PNA)