Los Banos, Laguna – Last November 5, 2021, Magsasaka at Siyentipiko Para sa Pag-Unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG), a farmer-scientist network, held the Gawad Ben Ramos, an awarding ceremony to honor the memory and body of work of the late Atty. Benjamin Ramos. Atty. Ben Ramos, an accomplished activist and human rights lawyer, was a long-time member of the board of trustees of MASIPAG. He was also the director of Paghida-et sa Kauswagan Development Group (PDG), a non-government organization working for people-centered land reform based in Negros.
Three years ago, on November 6, 2018, Atty. Ben Ramos was slain in cold blood, in front of a store in Kabankalan City. During that time, Atty. Ben was providing assistance to the victims of the Sagay 9 killings, a massacre where at least 9 farmers were killed in a “bungkalan” area.
According to MASIPAG, the activity program was launched to highlight issues and experiences of farmers, developmental work, and rural communities, as these were the fields and sectors where Atty. Ramos did his advocacies on. The awarding ceremony highlighted the initiatives and contributions of individuals and organizations to help establish and improve the rights of farmers in terms of land, seeds, technology, and the right to food and development.
Celebrating the life of Atty. Ben Ramos, Cris Panerio, national coordinator of MASIPAG, opened the program through remembering Atty. Ramos’ service for the people. He also highlighted that the call for justice should press on, as three years have passed and justice is still elusive for his friends and family. Panerio also emphasized that developmental and human rights workers should be afforded protection and must be free from impunity, citing the government’s contrary action to this. “Ang hustisya na ating minimithi, kasama ng kaniyang pamilya, mga mahal sa buhay ay di pa rin nakakamit; kung kaya’t patuloy ang ating laban, patuloy ang ating paghahanap ng katarungan para kay Atty. Ben Ramos at sa lahat ng pinaslang sa politikal na kadahilanan,” Panerio adds.
Panerio’s remark was followed by a message from Yesha Ramos, Atty. Ramos’ wife. Yesha retells Atty. Ramos’ life, from his dedication in the pursuit of justice to working with the people to improve the lives of the marginalized. Yesha explains that Ben was tireless and hopeful for the unity of the masses. “Naniniwala si Ben na ang labanan at pagsulong ng ating karapatan ay di nareresolba sa loob ng korte, kundi sa sama samang pagsulong at pakikibaka ng mga mamamayan,” Yesha retells Ben’s outlook. Yesha also emphasized the need to remain vigilant amid the swathes of human rights violations. “Ang red-tagging ng estado at ang kasunod na mapanlinlang na pagpatay kay Ben at sa marami pang iba ay nagpapakita ng tahasan ang pagwawalang bahala ng estado sa karapatang pantao at karapatan sa buhay, ngunit sa kabila ng hinagpis at sakit, nanatili tayong matatag at pinapagtuloy natin ang pakikibaka,” Yesha adds. Friends and colleagues from different sectors honored Atty. Ramos in the program by sharing their memories of Atty. Ramos.
In the second part of the program, panelists of the program Jhana Tejome of Agroecology X and Shen Maglinte of Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya (SIBAT), presented the awards to individuals and organizations. The individual awardees for the program are human rights defender Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen, farmer-leaders Anita Morales, Elena Tijamo, Ermerito Samarca, Lucia Capaducio, Lucio Lavina Gurango, Mamerto Pado, and Veneranda Guinanao. The organization awardees are: Alyansang Magbubukid ng Bulacan and Bantay Bigas. All of the awardees were recognized as individuals and organizations at the forefront of the struggle for farmer rights. Atty. Ben Ramos was also given a post-humous special award, in recognition of his life and body of work that is full of service.
With the perpetrators of Atty. Ramos’ untimely death still at large, participants echoed calls for justice for Atty. Ben Ramos with attendees of the program raising their calls. The program ended with the reiteration of calls to stop the repression and killings of developmental workers and justice for all victims of state impunity.
Who is Atty. Ben Ramos? Read here.
Gawad Ben Ramos program: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=609431410471573
3rd year death anniversary mass for Atty. Ben Ramos: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=276184131101991
For inquiries please contact:
Cristino Panerio, National Coordinator
0917 5640873, (049) 5365549
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, kindly visit https://www.facebook.com/MASIPAGFarmers