July 5, 2012
The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today warned against any cover-up in the probe of the death of Dutch NGO worker Willem Geertman even as an increasing number of people appear doubtful of the conduct of the investigation of the Philippine National Police. The group said that Bayan and allied groups in Europe are now spearheading efforts to support the “Justice for Willem” campaign in the Philippines. Dutch and Filipino human rights advocates and friends of Willem are set to hold a vigil on Friday 10:30am at the PH embassy in The Hague, Netherlands.
“From various testimonies, it would appear that the killing of Geertman is not a simple case of robbery. From an eyewitness account, there are indications that he may have been executed. This angle must be relentlessly pursued by the investigators,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“If Geertman was indeed targeted as witnesses suggest, the only plausible reason right now is his social involvement. He was an NGO worker involved in poor peasant communities. He had run-ins with the military and powerful interest groups. All these should be considered in the investigation. For the PNP to rush to conclude that the killing is a mere robbery with homicide may be a cover up of the truth,” Reyes added.
Bayan called on the Aquino government to “take decisive action” on the issue of extrajudicial killings. An independent probe is now necessary, according to the group.
“The Aquino regime has shown indifference towards extrajudicial killings, preferring to deal with the public relations consequences instead of eliminating the roots of the problem. The Aquino government encourages extrajudicial killings via its counter-insurgency programs and the utter lack of accountability within the military establishment,” Reyes said.
“Aquino will definitely be pressed on human rights issues in his upcoming SONA. He has not shown any interest in the matter, preferring instead to pamper the military. He has left the matter to his spokespersons to deal with. He hasn’t shown even half the interest as he had in the Corona impeachment,” he added
Bayan has worked with Geertman on many relief missions in Central Luzon, especially among peasant communities ravaged by typhoons. Just last year, Bayan and the Alay Bayan Inc, where Geertman is executive director, held a relief mission in Aurora and Nueva Ecija for the victims of Typhoon Pedring.
The killing of Geertman comes a month after the Philippine government participated in the United Nations Universal Periodic Review process wherein its rights record was scrutinized by the members of the UN Human Rights Council. At least 23 countries, many of them European Union states, pressed the PH government to eliminate extrajudicial killings.
Geertman is the second European NGO/Community worker killed under Aquino, after the killings of Fr. Fausto Tentorio in Mindanao last year.
“The Dutch government and the EU should press the PH government to address the killing of Geertman. Two years into the Aquino government and still no headway when it comes to human rights. The EU spent 4 million Euros for the human rights programs in the Philippines yet the situation remains fundamentally unchanged,” Reyes said. ###