Fiancée of slain Dutch NGO worker asks Aquino for justice
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines -The fiancée of slain Dutch activist and nongovernment worker Wilhelmus Geertman on Wednesday asked President Benigno Aquino III to make true his promise to give attention to the case and punish the perpetrators.
Aurora Santiago made the plea on the first death anniversary of Geertman, who was gunned down by two men at noon of July 3 last year just as he entered his office in a subdivision north of this Pampanga capital. He came from a bank where he withdrew money for a program of the Alay Bayan Central Luzon Inc., the nongovernment organization where he served as executive director for two years.
“It’s been a year and the suspects remained at large despite an arrest warrant on them,” Santiago told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone from Baler, Aurora.
A resolution of Assistant State Prosecutor Philip Tumala on Dec. 27, 2012 found probable cause to charge Harold de la Cruz, Marvin Marsan and several men for robbery and homicide.
“I also appeal to [Justice] Secretary [Leila] de Lima, based on our dialogue on June 7, to act favorably on our petition for review and to upgrade the case to murder instead of just robbery and homicide. Willem (Geertman) was killed for the pro-people causes he had advocated in his 40 years of working in the Philippines,” Santiago said.
She said Tumala’s resolution “absolved the Aquino [administration] and its state security forces from accountability.”
Church leaders said Geertman, 67, was the 13th victim of extrajudicial killings during the first two years in office of President Aquino.
Santiago said a representative of the Dutch Embassy observed the June 7 dialogue with De Lima.
Alfonso van Zijl, a Dutch who heads the Bataris Formation Center in Baler, said it is sad that justice has yet to be delivered in the deaths of Geertman and Romualdo Palispis, an election officer who was murdered on June 30 last year.
Before he was murdered, Palispis, also chair of the Justice and Peace Action Group-Aurora, was opposing the reduction of the land area of Maria Aurora town in Aurora.
Geertman had lived in Maria Aurora starting 1979 at the request of a Catholic bishop, working among communities of farmers and indigenous peoples in the province for literacy, farming techniques, agrarian reform and environmental projects.
Van Zijl said photographs from footage taken by closed circuit television cameras showed the faces of Geertman’s attackers.
“It was only in February that the prosecutor’s office filed a case of robbery with homicide against the killers. It did not entertain additional evidence that could lead to the conclusion that the killing of Willem was murder perpetrated by forces within the military,” he said in an e-mail.
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