On the fourth year since Atty. Ben Ramos murder, Farmer-led network Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) commemorates the life and reiterates justice for its board of trustee member and legal consultant.
Popularly known for his free legal services to the farmers of Negros fighting for their rightful lands to till, Ben Ramos, a lawyer, human rights defender, and rural development worker, was fatally red-tagged by the state and was later gunned down by still unidentified men. During the time of his murder, Atty Ben was handling the case of the nine sugarcane farmers who were massacred by armed men after joining a protest on a sugarcane plantation in Negros Occidental.
Atty. Ben was an extraordinary development worker who gave so much for the landless Filipino farmers. Tireless in the courtroom, in meetings, and in the field in helping the landless find their voices and claim their legal rights, Atty. Ben was indeed the epitome of MASIPAG’s mission and vision: improving the quality of life of resource-poor farmers and paving the way for a just and humane society that is sustainable, and where there is holistic development for the people.
“We used to be exploited agricultural workers in the hacienda until Atty. Ben and his organization Paghidaet sa Kauswagan Development Group (PDG) helped us in creating our own farmers’ organization so that we qualify to be a land beneficiary under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The hacienda owner, our landlord at that time, holds a high position in the local politics of Negros hence they can easily inflict harassment and intimidation to our farmers’ organization so that we get discouraged in our fight for our rightful land to till” shared Elizabeth “Neneng” Cuenca, one of the farmers from the said organization that Atty. Ben helped.
“It was Atty. Ben who tirelessly guided us on what to do so that we can finally have our own land through the Collective Land Ownership Award (CLOA) under CARP. All our deep and comprehensive understanding of our rights as farmers, especially to land, came from Atty. Ben and PDG.” Neneg added.
Atty. Ben’s murder happened at a time when our country needed him more than ever and even today. Now, four years since his murder, justice remains bleak for Atty. Ben Ramos and thus MASIPAG remains relentless in demanding justice for Atty. Ben along with the other land advocates and farmers who were also murdered by asserting their right to land.
Now more than ever, Atty. Ben Ramon’s vision of social justice and compassion, of dedication to others especially to resource-poor farmers continuously serve as a burning inspiration for all Filipino people yearning for a just and humane society that is sustainable, and where there is holistic development for the people.