November 7, 2018: Human rights lawyer killed in Philippines

On November 7, 2018 a Philippines human rights lawyer and activist was shot dead by unknown extremists on motorcycles in Kabankalan City.

KABANKALAN CITY, PHILIPPINES – Terrorists do not always stop with one act: they often follow it up with others that target related individuals.

Lawyers often get a bad rap. While this is not helpful – stereotypes rarely are – it is nonetheless true that some members of the legal profession do are not always the best representatives. They sometimes come across as ‘slimy’, engaging in activities that are either uncalled for or so outlandish that they lend themselves to disbelief and ridicule.

Nevertheless, there are many lawyers who do an amazing job at representing their clients, many of whom are in very dire circumstances and who are simply not qualified to represent themselves in a court of law. As a consequence, victims get the help and support they need and their suffering is alleviated to an extent.

Anyone need a lawyer?? My disbanding should not be an obstacle! (Photo: Gage Skidmore on flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Human rights lawyers are usually in the latter category, dedicating their lives to being there for the underrepresented. And sometimes they pay for their efforts with their lives.

On this day in 2018

Human rights lawyer and activist Benjamin Ramos was shot dead by unknown extremists on motorcycles in Kabankalan City in the Philippines’ Negros Occidental province. His death came less than a month after he helped families of nine farmers who were shot dead by unknown attackers (believed to be from the Revolutionary Proletarian ArmyRPA).

We decry this latest incident in a quick succession of violent attacks against lawyers, who are now enveloped in fear as they seek to provide access to justice to their clients.

Abdiel Fajardo, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) noted that 34 legal professionals had been killed since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016. Duterte is a real piece of work, to be sure, but the Philippines has been dealing with a terrorist problem, emanating in part from Maoist/Communists and also from jihadis, for decades. This particular attack may have been carried out by any of the above, but at a minimum it does qualify in my mind as an act of terrorism.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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