The Death of a Lawyer and The Responsibility of the Intellectual

Opinion & Analysis Nov 23, 2018 at 4:34 pm


By Carlo Rey Lacsamana

The death of human rights lawyer Benjamin “Ben” Ramos Jr. last November 6 depicts the level of barbarity Philippine politics has sunk into and the staggering sense of inevitability of the consequences for the socially conscious Filipino intellectual.

One is hardly surprised at the fate of Ben Ramos Jr. a “passionate, dedicated and articulate” defender of “peasants, environmentalists, activists, political prisoners and mass organizations in Negros.” According to the National Lawyer Guild–International Committee, Ben “is the 34th lawyer killed under the Duterte administration.”

In a short span of two years under the Duterte administration, there has been a tremendous number of persecution and killings of lawyers, priests, religious workers, journalists, peasant leaders, student activists, and political rivals and the thousands of victims and affected by the immoral war on drugs. Political violence is no rarity in the country, but such level is quite unprecedented in recent history. For the first time in our national history we have a government, represented by the president, whose passion for violence is the guiding principle of most its policies. Thus encouraging and fomenting a culture of violence in a country that is devastated by the present socio-politico-economic crisis which seems to verge on hopelessness, compounded by the incompetence of past administrations. Whatever direction one looks, one expects to see blood: the excessive force and power allotted to the police and military who regularly abuse them; local politicians who, in imitation of the president, engage in their own brutal version of drug war; armed vigilante groups financed by powerful landowners in close company with the military and the police.

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