NUPL to continue defending victims of injustice amid lawyer’s slay
CEBU CITY– “We will not be cowed.”
Amid the slay of one of their founding members on Tuesday night, the National Union of People’s Lawyer (NUPL) vowed to stand their ground and continue defending victims of injustice and oppression.
In a press statement, NUPL said the cold-blooded murder of lawyer Benjamin Ramos, secretary-general of the group in Negros Occidental, will not in any way stop them from carrying out their tasks while calling on the people to help them continue their mission.
“The killing of our beloved, adorably husky-voiced zany Ben has distressed all of us, battle-scarred and seemingly undaunted and impervious to threats and dangers while courageously, even at times audaciously, running against the tide of daily injustice, oppression and repression in defense of the defenseless and persecuted,” the group said.
“But who will defend the defenders? Our clients will. The people and their various organizations will. And 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. Yet we will close ranks. We will be there in the trenches in defense of the defenseless. There is no other choice.”
Ramos, 56, was gunned down by unidentified assailants on board a motorcycle in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental while taking a break after he had just finished preparing a legal document for a client.
He sustained three gunshot wounds on his body. The lawyer was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead on arrival.
NUPL said Ramos was the 34th lawyer killed since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office.
Excluding judges and prosecutors, he is the 24th member of the profession killed and the 8th in the Visayas, the group added.
Earlier, NUPL said Ramos—a dedicated “go-to” pro-bono lawyer of peasants, environmentalists, activists, political prisoners and mass organizations in Negros—was maliciously and irresponsibly tagged in a public poster by the Philippine National Police as among the so-called personalities of the underground armed movement.
“These beastly attacks by treacherous cowards cannot go on. Not a few of our members have been attacked and killed before while literally practicing their profession and advocacies in the courts, in rallies, in picket lines, in urban poor communities, and in fact-finding missions,” said the group led by its president, lawyer Edre Olalia; and secretary-general, lawyer Ephraim Cortez.
At present, they said a number of their members have received threats for handling cases of political prisoners, suspected rebels, environmentalists, and suspected poor drug users.
“The NUPL and its key officers have themselves been increasingly labeled and branded pejoratively by the police, military, vigilantes, some bigoted columnists, and online trolls, in open contempt of basic principles of the role of lawyers in society,” the group said.
“It is a painful price we have to pay sometimes in the service of the people and as a pledge to the next generations we will leave behind,” it added.
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