“Mabinay 6” lawyer shot dead in Negros
Aldo Nelbert Banaynal, Raffy T. Cabristante (The Freeman) - November 8, 2018 - 12:00am

DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines — The lawyer of the high-profile "Mabinay 6" was killed in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental Tuesday evening.


Benjamin Ramos, a known human rights lawyer, was shot dead by two unidentified assassins while taking a break from legal work, the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) said in a statement.

Ramos suffered three gunshot wounds to his back and upper chest. He was rushed to the Holy Mother of Mercy Hospital in Kabankalan City but was declared dead on arrival, a report from the Kabankalan police said.

He was 56.

Police have yet to determine the identity of the assailants and the motive in the killing.

As of press time, Kabankalan City Police Station chief Joenel Guadalupe could not be reached for comment.

Ramos was one of the founders of NUPL and the head of its Negros Occidental chapter.

Among his clients were youth activist and University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu fresh graduate Myles Albasin, who was arrested last March in a military operation at Barangay Luyang in Mabinay town, Negros Oriental.

Albasin and her five co-accused were suspected to be New People's Army (NPA) rebels and were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. They were dubbed the "Mabinay 6" by the local media.

Grace Albasin, Myles’ mother, in a statement, said Ramos was a man of compassion and dedication to the less fortunate.

“He lived for the people without fear.  He knew he was targeted, but it did not deter his spirit to take the cases of the ordinary folks, including (the) Mabinay 6.  He made his house a home to the families he defended.  He eased tension with humor.  This legacy he left behind is etched in the hearts of the people he served” Grace said.

She added that Ramos had escorted her and mothers to see their children in jail and he has not missed any court appearance for the Mabinay 6.

Ramos also represented suspected drug pushers and users, environmentalists, activists, political prisoners, and mass organizations in Negros Island on a "pro bono" basis, the NUPL said.

Police Regional Office (PRO)-6 Director John Bulalacao said he has ordered an immediate investigation into the shooting.

"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," Bulalacao said.

The NUPL, for its part, called the killing a "beastly attack by treacherous cowards."

"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 organization added.

Before he was killed, Ramos was tagged in a poster citing him as among personalities involved in communist insurgency in Negros.

In an interview with The FREEMAN last May, he debunked the claims, saying he is treating the poster as a harassment to prevent him from taking on human rights cases. — GAN (FREEMAN)

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