Fam­i­lies of ‘Sa­gay 9’ vic­tims in­sist of not know­ing slain lawyer

Sun Star Bacolod - - Front Page - BY GLAZYL Y. MASCULINO

SA­GAY CITY - We do not know him.

This was stressed by the fam­i­lies of the nine slain farm­ers in Sa­gay City, Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal, con­trary to the claim of pro­gres­sive groups that lawyer Ben­jamin Ramos Jr. was one of the mem­bers of the quick re­sponse team that pro­ceeded to the city to pro­vide as­sis­tance to them when the mas­sacre hap­pened at Bu­lanon vil­lage on Oc­to­ber 20.

On November 6, Ramos, a peas­ant advocate, and coun­sel of the six al­leged NPA mem­bers who were ar­rested in Mabi­nay, Ne­gros Ori­en­tal in March this year, was shot at close range by mo­tor­cy­cle-rid­ing as­sailants in front of a store near the pub­lic plaza at Barangay 5 in Ka­bankalan City.

“Wala kami na nakak­i­lala sa iya. Wala kami na kakita sa iya” (We don’t know him. We haven’t seen him), said one of the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at Balay Kauswagon here yes­ter­day.

They claimed that they haven’t met any lawyers that helped them on the case, but only one fiscal.

As this de­vel­oped, one of the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Ban­tigue fam­ily also claimed that Ramos did not pro­vide any as­sis­tance to them on the Sa­gay mur­der case.

“Naisip ko po na sinasabi nila na baka pinatay siya dahil

tu­mu­long siya sa kaso ng Sa­gay mas­sacre. Baka po para ma li­his po ang pag­tu­tok ng aw­tori­dad sa nang­yaring mas­sacre” ( I just thought that maybe they were say­ing that he was killed be­cause he as­sisted us on the case of the Sa­gay mas­sacre. Prob­a­bly, it was just to de­vi­ate the fo­cus of the au­thor­i­ties on the mas­sacre),” she said.

She said: “If in­deed it was their real mo­tive, we can­not give jus­tice to the vic­tims of the ‘Sa­gay 9’ be­cause au­thor­i­ties will fo­cus more on the case of the slain lawyer.”

For his part, Colonel Bene­dict Arevalo, com­mand­ing of­fi­cer of the 303rd In­fantry Bat­tal­ion (IB) of the Philip­pine Army, who was also present at the press brief­ing yes­ter­day, said he was sur­prised about the state­ment of the fam­i­lies of the slain farm­ers.

“Hindi iyan scripted. Hindi nga daw nila kak­i­lala si Atty. Ramos (It’s not scripted. They even don’t know Atty. Ramos),” Arevalo said.

Arevalo said the govern­ment will not gain any­thing from the death of Ramos.

If “Sa­gay 9” to them is a lie, the killing of Atty. Ramos is also a big lie, he told the Com­mu­nist Party of the Philip­pines-new Peo­ple’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Po­lice are eye­ing three an­gles on his death – gam­bling, coun­sel­ing of “land grab­bing” farm­ers, and a grudge.

Au­thor­i­ties have al­ready per­sons of in­ter­est but re­fused to re­veal their iden­ti­ties as of press time.

Mean­while, the Bagong Alyansang Mak­abayan (Bayan)– Ne­gros, in a press re­lease, said they ab­hor the po­lice’s pat­tern of blam­ing the vic­tims of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings (EJKS) as a mere ex­cuse of in­ves­ti­gat­ing groups and in­di­vid­u­als who have the strong­est mo­tive; pro­moter and im­ple­menter of so­cial in­jus­tices and vil­i­fi­ca­tion cam­paign.

“The pat­tern of the po­lice is pre­sent­ing var­i­ous an­gle just like ‘Sa­gay 9’ mas­sacre, then pick­ing up the out­ra­geous mo­tive, and con­clu­sively pin it to the vic­tim them­selves,” said Bayan-ne­gros sec­re­tary­gen­eral Michael Dela Con­cep­cion.

Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent John Bu­lala­cao, di­rec­tor of Po­lice Re­gional Of­fice (Pro)–western Visayas, was quick to la­bel it as part of the de­bunked Red Oc­to­ber plot while the Sa­gay City po­lice ad­mit­ted the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was not yet fin­ished, and yet to have an af­fi­davit of land­lord and leaser, Dela Con­cep­cion said.

Bu­lala­cao pointed out that mem­bers of the Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Sugar Work­ers (NFSW) and Atty. Ben Ramos in­fu­ri­ated land­lords, but failed to fur­ther in­ves­ti­gate them af­ter ac­knowl­edg­ing the land­lords’ means and mo­tive to liq­ui­date op­po­si­tion, which tan­ta­mounts in ab­so­lu­tion, he said.

On Ramos’ case, po­lice should in­ves­ti­gate the 303rd IB that started the vil­i­fi­ca­tion cam­paign that leads to the lawyer’s mur­der, he added.*

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