President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday slammed his critics for blaming his administration for the death of human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos.
“What the f***** s***? Why would I kill a lawyer? You are very small-time. Why would I assassinate him? For what?” Duterte said in his speech during the awarding of land certificates to agrarian reform beneficiaries in Boracay.
He made his statement even as Senator Nancy Binay said Friday the assassinations, harassments, threats and other forms of attacks on lawyers were not only alarming but were clear threats to the rule of law and democracy.
She made her statement as she condemned Ramos’ killing in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental.
She also expressed alarm over the “pattern of violence against lawyers” and called on the authorities to investigate the spate of killings in the country.
“We convey our deepest sympathy to the family of Attorney Ben and condemn in the strongest terms his brutal slay,” Binay said.
Ramos, who was working on the case of nine slain farmers in Sagay City, Negros Occidental, was shot dead in the city of Kabankalan about three kilometers from a police station.
Police reports said he took three bullets in the chest from motorcycle-riding men at 10:30 pm on Tuesday.
Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao blamed the Duterte administration for allowing impunity to prevail in the country.
ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro echoed Casilao’s remarks and said the Duterte administration was behind Ramos’ killing.
But the Palace said blaming the government for Ramos’ death was “reckless, irresponsible and baseless.”
“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,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“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.”
Ramos gave free legal assistance to the National Federation of Sugar Workers following the massacre of its members by still unidentified gunmen at Hacienda Nene in Sagay town last month.
The police and the military have previously tagged the New People’s Army for the killing of the farmers.