I UTTER the word as a malediction, a curse upon those who would malign the dead, paint victims as complicit in their own fates, and subvert the cause of justice for their own nefarious ends.

Yes, shame on you, Western Visayas Police Director John Bulalacao, the master sleuth who, even before Ben Ramos’ body had grown cold after he was gunned down in Kabankalan City the night of November 6, immediately knew it could only have been because he either lawyered for “land grabbers” or had incurred huge debts from a vice – gambling – that apparently only this topnotch officer knew the human rights lawyer and farmers’ advocate indulged in.

Either way, what Bulalacao seemed to be saying was that Ben deserved what was coming to him.

Of course, this seems to be a talent Bulalacao seems to be particularly adept in.

Remember the Sagay 9 massacre on October 20? Hardly had the smoke cleared in the newly cleared sugarcane field in Hacienda Nene, Barangay Bulanon, Sagay City where gunmen rained fire and steel on nine hapless people than Bulalacao – he ought to show us his amazing crystal ball one day – immediately discerned that the New People’s Army was behind the carnage, never mind if he and both his subalterns and superiors had long maligned the organization to which most of the victims belonged as a “legal front” of the rebels.

In fact, I really wouldn’t be surprised if Bulalacao also pins Ben’s murder on the NPA, never mind that in April, the lawyer’s face was one of 63 of purported “rebel personalities” printed on a tarpaulin hung in Moises Padilla town.

I can imagine Bulalacao’s mind going on overdrive: “But that was made by the NPA so that they could later kill them and blame it on the government as part of their plot to undermine democracy and seize power.”

The Philippine National Police motto is “To serve and protect.”

Unfortunately, it does not explicitly say who they should serve and protect.

Perhaps we should not fault Bulalacao then if he sees his duty as serving and protecting only a certain class or sector of society.

After all, didn’t Ben Ramos also choose to dedicate his legal skills to protecting only one segment of the population – the poor and downtrodden whose toil produces the country’s wealth and puts food on our tables but who continue to exist in virtual slavery or, worse, see what little they have taken from them by those who wield power and wealth by manipulating laws to disenfranchise them even more, the same laws Ben sought to shield them with.

Yes, it must be in this great divide where the problem lies.

Ben studied and eventually practiced law because he saw it as a means toward genuine justice, a justice that rightfully holds that they who create the wealth should own the means of that wealth’s creation, that they who till the land and man the engines of production should own these.

He also believed that the protection of the law rightfully extended even to those who had chosen or been driven to go beyond the law to wage a struggle against a system responsible for the injustice and suffering of the people.

After all, if the system were more just, there would be no need to struggle to right it, would there?

But that, of course, is anathema to they, who run the system, who believe their wealth and power entitle them to more protection of the law than ordinary mortals, and to those who serve them.

It is therefore not surprising that Bulalacao hints of something very wrong in Ben’s lawyering for what he considers “land grabbers,” work that he says may have angered the landlords and what he considers “legitimate agrarian reform beneficiaries,” not that he is even remotely qualified to say who the latter are, although we are pretty sure he is very clear about who the landlords are and what rights they ought to enjoy and which he ought to protect.

Of course, he is merely hewing to the line of thinking of his commander-in-chief who, true to character, felt insulted at being accused of having a hand in the death of a defender of the poor because it was too “small time” even as he justified killing the likes of those Ben defended, landless tillers seeking their fair share of the land they tilled.

So yes, shame on you Bulalacao and shame on you Duterte and shame on all those who would seek to turn this tragedy into a travesty of justice. May the infamy of the injustice you wreak hound you even beyond this mortal plane.