BACOLOD

Group tags 2 army officers in slay of human rights lawyer

A MILITANT group in Negros Occidental has tagged two intelligence officers of the Philippine Army as “persons of interest” on the murder of slain human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos Jr.

The September 21 Movement–Southern Negros, in a press release, said the families and colleagues of Ramos are considering Rodolfo Aleman Jr., 40, of Bacolod City; and Makoy Vellahermosa, 26, of Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental behind the assassination of Ramos in Kabankalan City on November 6.

The two members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were arrested on November 17 in Sipalay City after they allegedly tailed some members of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) from Bacolod City to the wake of Ramos in Sipalay City.

The two military officers were released from police custody on November 19 after they were able to post bail of P3, 500 each for their grave threat charges.

The group alleged that only Aleman was able to present Identification (ID) cards confirming his identity as a member of the AFP while Vellahermosa did not have an ID and could have used a fake name.

The two were also found in possession of two .45 caliber firearms but while inside the police station, the other firearm went missing, they also said.

“We have armed suspects on the loose,” the group stressed.

They also said that the 303rd Infantry Brigade (IB) has mobilized all its assets to immediately bolt out the two armed operatives from detention and doing all means to stop the possible investigation on their role in extrajudicial killings.

They also considered the earlier statement of Colonel Benedict Arevalo, commanding officer of the 303rd IB, as “flop” after he justified the tasks of the two military officers to provide security for NUPL during the wake of Ramos.

“We cannot and would not buy such cheap justifications when they sent the two armed persons to provide security to the six-vehicle caravan from Bacolod City, with personalities from the NUPL and Karapatan,” the group said.

”The lives of the families and colleagues of Atty. Ramos, as well as those from the progressive organizations, are under threat with the release of the two armed suspects,” they said.

”But we will not stop our actions to seek justice for the killing of our beloved peoples’ lawyer,” the group added.

For his part, Arevalo said their legal team will handle the allegations of the said group but he reiterated that the two army officers are not considered suspects.


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