More to Dutchman Geertman’s slay, say kin
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The Authorities should consider the slain Dutch development worker Wilhelmus JJ Lutz Geertman to be a victim of extrajudicial killing due to his involvement in campaigns against landlessness, mining, logging and a large freeport project in Aurora province, his brother said on Saturday.
“I am convinced he was a victim of an extrajudicial killing. This is much more than just an ordinary robbery for money,” said Antonius Maria Alfonsius Geertman.
Four years ago, Antonius said his brother had told him about death threats he had received owing to his work as a lay missionary involved in campaigns to save the forests as a resource for farmers, Dumagats and Cordillerans.
“He expected this to happen. He knew he was not safe but despite this he was determined to work with the poor,” Antonius said.
Antonius and his sister, Maria Elisabeth, arrived from the Netherlands on Friday to bury Geertman, 67, in the Aurora capital of Baler on Sunday.
Antonius, Maria Elisabeth and two other brothers agreed Geertman should be buried in Aurora because this had been his wish.
“His coworkers tell me he was more Filipino than Dutch,” Antonius said.
Some 100 people, mostly church workers, on eight jeepneys, joined the convoy that brought Geertman’s remains to Baler on Saturday.
Antonius appealed to Philippine authorities to “do everything to find the truth behind this killing and bring those behind this to justice.”
“Do what should be done in a Christian way to secure the rights of the people my brother was working with,” he said.
The Pampanga police said the missing cash, which Geertman had withdrawn before the July 3 attack, led them to pursue a robbery and homicide investigation. The Dutchman was killed near his office on the San Fernando side of L&S Subdivision in Angeles City.
Church leaders called Geertman the 13th victim of extrajudicial killings in the first two years of the Aquino administration.
305 extrajudicial killings
A total of 305 extrajudicial killings have taken place between 2001 and August 2010 during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and 62 of these occurred in Central Luzon, according to a study by the Asia Foundation and United States Agency for International Development.
Supt. Luisita Magnaye, city police director, has upgraded Geertman’s case to robbery with murder after witnesses reported seeing the gunman shoot the Dutchman in the back, indicating that it was a premeditated act, before he snatched the bag purportedly containing P1.2 million that the victim had just withdrawn from a bank here.
Geertman devoted more than 40 years of his life to shipyard workers, farmers and tribal folk in the Philippines, mostly in Aurora. He was one of the founders of the nongovernment organization Bataris and the Justice and Peace Action Group, both based in Baler.
In 2009, he was appointed executive director of Alay Bayan-Luson Inc. (ABI), a disaster response management group which is a member of the Citizens Disaster Response Network.
Reacting to the allegation by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and the human rights watchdog Karapatan, the Army’s 7th Infantry Division denied that the 48th IB had maligned Geertman by dubbing him a high-ranking leader of the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front.
“We denounced the killing of Geertman and we are open to help the Philippine National Police investigate the case,” said Lt. Tala Servidad, the division’s public information officer.
Malacañang on Saturday also criticized leftist groups for quickly accusing the military of subjecting Geertman to harassment in the past and of possible involvement in his killing without offering any evidence.
Lacierda said the government would investigate “any and all angles if there is any proof to all and any of those accusations.”
“One important thing is you just don’t throw mud at people. You have to really produce proof of that and let them come out, Lacierda said.
The Commission on Human Rights pledged to investigate the killing—including the possibility that the aid worker’s activist advocacies may have had something to do with it. With reports from TJ Burgonio and Norman Bordadora
First posted 6:09 pm | Saturday, July 7th, 2012
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