A human rights lawyer became the 34th attorney to be killed under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte after being shot dead in the central Philippines, police and colleagues said Wednesday.
Benjamin Ramos, 56, a founding member of the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL), was gunned down by two suspects late Tuesday in Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental province, 560 kilometres south of Manila.
"The victim sustained three gunshot wounds on his chest and was brought to [a nearby hospital] but was pronounced dead on arrival by the attending physician," regional police director chief superintendent John Bulalacao said.
"The victim [served] as a lawyer for suspected rebels and suspected drug users," he added. "We assure the family of the victim of a thorough investigation to ensure the immediate arrest of the perpetrators so that justice will be served."
The NUPL said Ramos was helping the families of nine sugarcane plantation workers killed by unidentified gunmen in the nearby city of Sagay on October 20.
The Duterte administration has been criticised for a violent anti-drug campaign that has left thousands dead.
"These beastly attacks by treacherous cowards cannot go on," NUPL said in a statement. "Our members have been attacked and killed while literally practicing their profession."
Last week, a laywer who worked with Ramos on the case of the Sagay murders was charged with kidnapping after allegedly abducting a 14-year-old survivor and witness. The NUPL said the survivor was in the custody of her mother.
"It is a painful price we have to pay sometimes in the service of the people and as a pledge to the next generations we will leave behind," the group said.
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