Statement on the November 6, 2018 assassination of human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – Canada (ICHRP- Canada) denounces the brutal assassination of human rights activist and lawyer Benjamin Ramos. Ramos was an ardent and outspoken defender of the downtrodden who stood in solidarity with the poor and oppressed of Negros. He was gunned down by motorcycle riding tandem team, the modus operandi of military assassins in the Philippines, on November 6, 2018 in Kabankalan City, Negros.

Our human rights colleagues in Karapatan worked closely with Attorney Ramos during his many years of legal activism. At the time of his death Ramos was theSecretary General of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) in Negros. In this role he had championed investigations into numerous human rights cases and killings of peasant activists including the recent October 21, 2018 massacre of 9 sugar workers in Sagay City, Negros Occidental by suspected military elements.

His work with the poor and oppressed attracted the attention of powerful Negros landlords and their allies in the security forces. The Philippine human rights organization Karapatan reports that in April 2018 the Philippine National Police (PNP) placed Ramos’ name and photo on what can only be described as a poster hit list, making him and leaders of the poor and oppressed targets for precisely this sort of attack.

As we grieve for Atty Ramos and all victims of state-sponsored violence, we are deeply concerned by the continuing deterioration of human rights under President Rodrigo Duterte. His government has made it state policy to intimidate, harass, arrest and even kill activists and critics instead of answering their legitimate demands. The ongoing militarization of the countryside and the government’s refusal to address the roots of social conflict are the basis for these shocking events.

In this growing context of fear and impunity, ICHRP Canada calls on the Philippine government to take immediate steps to end its campaign of terror and impunity.

The Duterte government’s ill-advised policy of walking away from the peace process with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and its decision to unsheathe the sword of war against the people across the Philippines has provided the conditions for these killings to occur.

We cal on the Duterte government to:
Order an immediate and independent investigation into the assassination of Atty. Ben Ramos and prosecute the perpetrator of this heinous crime;
Prosecute the military and police perpetrators of human rights crimes;
Stop the counter insurgency program and the campaign of terror and impunity that have resulted in the killings of farmers, indigenous leaders, anti-mining activists, human rights defenders and other social activists;
Implement genuine land reform and eliminate one of the fundamental bases of social conflict in the Philippines;
Restart the Peace Process with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).• •
We call on the Canadian Government to end support for the Duterte regime and:
Issue a public statement condemning the assassination of Atty. Ben Ramos and calling on President Rodrigo Duterte to take immediate action to end the killings and Human Rights violations against Human Rights Defenders;
Stop all military and police cooperation and assistance;
Stop ongoing support for the Philippine government’s counter-insurgency program including socio-economic programming;
Stop all arms sales to the Duterte regime.

For more information, please contact: Malcolm Guy (mobile +1514 574-9906;
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