PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has denied that his government was behind the killing of a human rights lawyer.
Benjamin Ramos, secretary-general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers’ (NUPL)-Negros Occidental chapter, was gunned down in front of a store on Roxas Street, Barangay 5 in Kabankalan on Tuesday.
“And including ‘yung abogado nila, kami pa ang pagbibintangan ang gobyerno. What the f—–g shit? Why would I kill a lawyer? Napaka small time,” Duterte said, referring to Ramos, who most recently served as lawyer for a farmers’ group whose members were killed in Sagay City last month.
“Why would I assasinate him? for what?” the President added.
Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao blamed the Duterte government for the “rising level of impunity” in the country, while ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said “there is blood in the hands of the Duterte administration” over Ramos’ killing.
But Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo on Wednesday insisted that Duterte would not allow anyone to “violate any law and get away with it.”
“Authorities are now conducting a speedy and impartial investigation with respect to the incident and pertinent agencies will do all they can to ensure that the perpetrators of this detestable atrocity are brought to justice,” Panelo said.
“He (Duterte) will spare no one in his relentless drive against criminality pursuant to the constitutional directive for him to protect and serve the country’s citizenry,” he added.
Ramos assisted the National Federation of Sugar Workers after nine of its members were killed by unidentified gunmen at Hacienda Nene in Sagay town last month.
He was also a pro-bono lawyer who helped peasants, environmentalists, activists, political prisoners and mass organizations in Negros.
Police recently tagged him in a public poster as among members of an underground armed movement, the NUPL said in a Facebook post.