MANILA - Malacañang on Wednesday said blaming government for the killing of human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos was "reckless," even as it condemned his slay in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental late Tuesday.
Ramos, secretary-general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers’ Negros Occidental chapter, was gunned down in front of a store on Roxas Street, Barangay 5 in Kabankalan. He most recently served as lawyer of a farmers' group whose members were killed in Sagay City last month.
“Putting the blame of the slaying on the government by a group or by a member of Congress not only is reckless [and] irresponsible, [it is] baseless as well,” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador in a statement.
“It can only inflame the emotions of those outraged by the senseless death," he added.
Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao earlier blamed the Duterte government for the “rising level of impunity” in the country, while ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said “there is blood in the hands of the Duterte administration” over Ramos’ killing.
But Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte would not allow anyone to “violate any law and get away with it.”
“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," Panelo said.
“He 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,” he said.
Panelo also sent the President's condolences to Ramos' family and said Duterte "gives his assurance that there will be no stone left unturned in the resolution of the killing of a fellow member of the bar.”
Ramos assisted the National Federation of Sugar Workers after 9 of its members were killed by unidentified gunmen at Hacienda Nene in Sagay town last month.
He was also a pro-bono lawyer who helped peasants, environmentalists, activists, political prisoners and mass organizations in Negros.
Police recently tagged him in a public poster as among members of an underground armed movement, the NUPL said in a Facebook post.