WE agree with the administration when it says that blaming the government for the killing of human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos is “reckless and irresponsible” and can only “inflame the emotions of those outraged by the senseless death.”
But the Palace ought to realize, too, that the murder of Ramos, a founding member of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, is all the more suspicious because he had been working with National Federation of Sugar Workers, whose members—four women, two minors and three men—were massacred by as yet unknown assailants last month in a sugar plantation in Sagay, Negro Occidental that they had tried to occupy.
Nor did it help when the Palace immediately supported the unlikely theory floated by the Armed Forces and the police that the nine farmers—all new NFSW recruits-- were mercilessly gunned down by their own comrades, communist rebels, simply because they wanted to put the Duterte administration in a bad light.
That suggestion beggars belief.
Why would the rebels—whose ranks the government claims time and again have been thinning out—kill nine of their own recruits, which is what the administration says they were?
Why would the authorities not focus instead on more obvious suspects, such as armed goons working for the landowners? Why has the government immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was the communist rebels who carried out the massacre?
There is, in fact, no need to put the administration in a bad light because its own actions—and inaction—are enough. Their insistence on blaming the communists without proof or evidence—and Ramos’ murder last week-- merely add to the suspicion that they are covering up something.
Ramos, 56, was gunned down by motorcycle-riding men as he smoked a cigarette and talked to the owner of a sari-sari store in Roxas Street, in Kabankalan City, also in Negros Occidental.
He is the 34th lawyer killed under the Duterte administration.
Nobody is saying, at this point, that they are directly responsible for the deaths, but it certainly appears that they have done little to discourage the killings.
So the administration should not be surprised that the European Union also denounced Ramos’ killing and called on the Philippine government to immediately bring the perpetrators to justice.
And before the President has one of his infamous fits over the EU, there is no rush to judgment in its condemnation of the human rights lawyer’s killing. It is merely a call to action.