Sagay massacre victims’ kin: We don’t know slain lawyer

Gilbert Bayoran - The Philippine Star
Sagay massacre victimsâ kin: We donât know slain lawyer
“Hindi namin siya kilala (We don’t know him),” Nove Bantigue, a niece of one of the fatalities, said.
National Union of Peoples' Lawyers Facebook page

BACOLOD CITY , Philippines — The relatives of farm workers killed in Sagay, Negros Occidental last month have clarified reports that slain human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos was their counsel.

“Hindi namin siya kilala (We don’t know him),” Nove Bantigue, a niece of one of the fatalities, said.

Joemarie Cañete, whose wife died in the massacre, said no one among their family members have met Ramos.

Prior to his murder, Ramos was reportedly assisting the relatives of the victims of the massacre.

The relatives of the fatalities were presented at a press conference on Friday to deny such reports.

Chief Inspector Robert Mansueto, Sagay police acting chief, said the families of eight of the nine fatalities have sought police protection.

Militant groups have accused state security forces of involvement in the killing of Ramos, a founding member of the National Union of People’s Lawyers.

President Duterte lashed out at the allegations, saying he would not kill lawyers even as he reiterated his call to law enforcers to arrest land grabbers.

Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao, Western Visayas police director, said  Ramos provided legal assistance to farmers accused of land grabbing, which ”infuriated landlords and legitimate land beneficiaries.”

What illegal gambling?

Meanwhile, the widow of Ramos expressed dismay over the claims of the Philippine National Police that illegal gambling is among the possible motives for his murder.

In an interview with MBC Aksyon Radyo, Clarissa Ramos said her husband had been under surveillance for several years for handling the cases of slain activists.

Last year, Clarissa said her husband was included in the military’s list of communist rebels.

Michael de la Concepcion of Bayan-Negros said the police should investigate the 303rd Infantry Brigade for starting a villification campaign against Ramos, citing a poster it released wherein the lawyer was tagged as a communist rebel.




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