Diokno, Hilbay condemn murder of Negros human rights lawyer

Published November 7, 2018, 4:00 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Raymund Antonio

Lawyers running under the opposition coalition in the 2019 senatorial elections on Wednesday condemned the murder of Ben Ramos, secretary-general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers-Negros Island.

Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno said he was “outraged” that Ramos was killed by unidentified gunmen in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental for representing the marginalized sector.

Florin Hilbay and Chel Diokno (MANILA BULLETIN)
Florin Hilbay and Chel Diokno

“I do not know Atty. Ramos, though I understand why he took cases pro bono, helping the neediest in our society. What he did made him a target of suspicion that he was leftist because of the cases he took,” he said.

His death, according to the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) chairperson, was “inexcusable and must be investigated.” Diokno then urged authorities to bring perpetrators to justice.

“I condemn the murder of a fellow member of the Bar. I am outraged at the thought that his advocacy could have caused his own murder or might justify it,” he said.

Two men on a motorcycle gunned down Ramos in front of a store near the city’s public plaza. He sustained three gunshot wounds in the right back side and left upper chest of his body.

Ramos, one of the founding members of NUPL, was a pro bono lawyer for peasants, political prisoners, and victims of human rights violations in Negros.

Like Diokno, former solicitor general Florin Hilbay condemned in the “strongest possible terms “ the murder of Ramos, saying that the government should investigate the killing.

“It is the constitutional obligation of this administration to bring the perpetrators and the brains behind this killing to justice, “ Hilbay, a constitutional law expert, said.

“This prevailing culture of lawlessness and violence has threatened our people, especially the poor,” he added.

Diokno condoled with Ramos’ family, friends, and his clients for his untimely death.

“Now is not the time to cower in fear, especially for men and women of the law,” the human rights lawyer said.