DOCTOR TO THE BARRIOS: Daughter of slain HR lawyer wants to serve the people

GABRIELLE THEA Ramos (Photo by Joshua Enriquez)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

(Edited/Updated) THE daughter of a slain human rights lawyer in Negros Occidental wants to continue her father’s cause by becoming a doctor of the poor and oppressed.

And Gabrielle Thea Ramos, daughter of the late lawyer Benjamin Ramos, is a step closer to her dream after earning her college degree in Bachelor of Science in Biology at the University of Philippines-Visayas (UPV) on June 27, 2019.

Her father Benjamin was gunned down by still unidentified suspects in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, on November 6, 2018.

Benjamin was the secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)-Negros Occidental chapter and founder of the farmers’ organization Paghiliusa Development Group. Before his murder, he was assisting the National Federation of Sugar Workers after nine of its members were killed by unidentified gunmen at Hacienda Nene in Sagay, Negros Occidental in October 2018.

In an interview with Daily Guardian, Gabrielle Thea shared how the sudden death of her father affected their lives and inspired her to finish her studies at UPV.

Initially, Gabrielle said she felt discouraged and wanted to stop schooling.

“When I heard the news, I was still at school then I immediately went home until the funeral rites. I stayed at home for two weeks and I thought of stopping school because gusto ko mabantay na lang ko di,” she told the Daily Guardian.


But her mind changed when one of her father’s former clients, perhaps a farmer, approached her and said “Inday padayunon mo eskwela mo ha kay para pag-graduate mo masunod ka kay tatay mo (Continue your studies because you will follow your father when you graduate).”

Gabrielle took that advice to heart and served as a wake-up call and inspiration to finish her studies.

“We are so overwhelmed by the support of people especially the farmers who travelled long distances to attend the wake of my father. There were a lot of volunteers and they offered to help us during those difficult times. Those instances inspired and strengthened me to continue the fight and finish my schooling,” she recalled.

She added that she is grateful to UPV for molding and preparing her for the real world.

“I really value the teaching of UP. Although, it’s difficult at first but once you stay here and be surrounded by people who are dedicated in their studies, you too would be inspired to give your all. I also appreciate the professors who opened my eyes to the reality that is happening in our country which made me understand the work of my father,” Gabrielle said.

Gabrielle shared that she would have bragged and dedicated her graduation to her father if he was still alive.

“My graduation, amo gid ni tani ang akon ipabugal kay tatay. I am offering this success to him and I am thanking him for all the unwavering support that he gave me and our family. He did not force me to follow his footsteps and become a lawyer,” she said.



After earning her BS Biology degree, Gabrielle said she plans to study medicine and serve the community by becoming a doctor to the barrios.

“I am planning to study medicine and become a doctor to the barrios, amo lang gid na akon gusto. Our tuition is free and I want to give it back by serving the people,” she said.

She recalled the words of her father who always reminded her to serve the people.

“He would always remind me nga kon ano man ang path na pili-un ko, make sure gid nga ma-serve ka gid sa people and always have good intentions, indi lang para sa income,” Gabrielle said.

Gabrielle hopes that the farmers who were her father’s clients will not lose hope.

“Indi lang tani sila mag-lose hope especially sa kadamo pa nga case nga unsolved nga ginhandle ni Tatay kay may ara gid time nga makuha gid nila and justice. Indi sila mawad-an sang hope and indi man sila makahadlok sa pag-voice out,” she said.

She also has high hopes for the youth that they can still become instruments of change.

“Indi lang ako ang may heart sa service, I really believe that the youth is really the hope of our nation. Time nga mag-change because as you can see in the news there have been a lot of killings especially those that are members of the opposition and that is not democracy anymore,” she said.