For the peasants, the workers and tribal brothers whom Wilhelmus Geertman worked tirelessly with and dined to the barest with, we swear by their names that we shall remain steadfast. Ours is a firm resolve to fight long and hard to defend every inch of the country’s soil, every tree, every fruit, every bud, and see them all to fruition. We shall stay firm in our resolve to resist all those who use the state’s power to bleed the country dry in the name of profit.
We condemn in the strongest possible term the killing of Wilhelmus Geertman who was gunned down right inside the compound of his office in the City of San Fernando in Pampanga around mid-noon of last July 3. Two heartless men barged into the premises of Alay Bayan-Luson Inc. (ABI), grabbed him by the collar, pushed him down to a kneeling position and pump a bullet in him.
Wilhelmus Geertman, Willem or Wim to his many friends in the Philippines -- a Dutch national with a Filipino heart died after being rushed to a nearby hospital. In a country controlled by a ruling few who control the state’s machinery, the police’s too easy disposing that what happened was a case of robbery with homicide is unacceptable.
Four witnesses of the murder swear the killers made no effort to conceal their faces, they had Wim singled out and the most they did against the witnesses were to train their handguns of them to keep them at bay. The gunman was swift without rushing and precisely chose a spot on Wim’s back and shot him straight to his heart.
Theirs was not to simply rob. They could have easily done so, in at least two opportunities with no need to shoot and kill him – first was when he alighted from his service car and pressed the doorbell of the office’s side gate; second was when he raised his hands after being confronted by two men with hand guns that immediately followed him when he entered the premises. Perhaps it could have even been easier to hold him up immediately after leaving the bank.
But the killers’ chose to enter the office premises, repeatedly cursed him without announcing a hold up, pinned him down to a kneeling position and executed him. The money that Wim had withdrawn from the bank for the Malaria Control Project in Zambales and Health and Disaster Preparedness Project in Nueva Ecija was carted away since by the killers both as a bonus and to divert the public’s attention over the political character of the assassination.
The authorities were fast in dismissing the case as robbery with homicide. If it is robbery the killers had in mind, they could have easily taken any money Wim then had in him. He was 67 years old and would have not matched the combined force of two men who by eyewitnesses’ description are likely in their thirties and both were armed with handguns.
It was rather clear that they have identified Wim as their target, zeroed in on him and pinned him down and finished him with a bullet from a revolver that leaves no spent shell for evidence.
Wim, firm of faith had a Doctorate in Theology, came to the Philippines as a member of the Calama Group and eventually the Missionary Volunteers (MIVO) in 1970. He finished a second Doctorate in Sociology at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. He was unwavering in his commitment. He chose to live and toil with his hands like a common welder in a factory. In 1979, upon the invitation of Bishop Julio Xavier Labayen, OCD of the Prelature of Infanta, he moved to the province of Aurora which was thenstill a part of Southern Tagalog.
Aurora, now part of Central Luzon had become his home particularly the capital town of Baler. He had stayed there for 23 years -- the marginalized peasants, fisherfolks, the Dumagats and Aetas and other indigenous people (IPs) had become his next of kin.
He had helped different peoples’ organizations: the peasants in their struggle for land; the IPs for their ancestral domain; the broad masses of the country for their human rights struggle particularly during the Marcos martial law years and the more recent reign of terror of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s butcher Jovito Palparan.
He joined the Alay Bayan Incorporated (ABI) in 2009 and under his leadership, ABI has served over a hundred communities of the region affected by disasters and environmental degradation not only in terms relief and delivery operations which the government and other organizations are wont to do, but in empowering the people most vulnerable to disaster and calamities both natural and man-made that include displacement of communities due to logging, mining and even conflict due to war.
With Wim’s able leadership and the hardy spirit of the staff members of ABI, they have raised their service communities’ capability to prepare way ahead and defend their selves using all resources available to them; and also for the communities to be willful and confident in tapping the resources and machineries of their local government.
They have also expanded their institution’s concerns to Malaria control project, mental health and intervention in communities affected by natural calamities and armed conflicts. They have likewise extended their service areas outside of Central Luzon to Pangasinan and Nueva Viscaya. He was a driving force in extending the services of the institution to the most vulnerable sectors and communities in other provinces of the north; thus in May 2011, his NGO was registered under its new name ALAY BAYAN-LUSON, INC. (ABI)
Who would want him dead? Wim had strongly criticized national government programs that find the Filipino people in the loosing end and destroy the environment. He had strongly opposed programs like the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO) because of the project’s negative impacts on rural people and the environment particularly in the town of Casiguran. He had taken exceptions that there are pending applications for mining operations for every municipality in Aurora that would extend to the seacoast.
Who else would gain most in his death but those who wish to destroy the province of Aurora with economic programs that would best serve the interests of foreign and local investors.
In the light of Oplan Bayanihan and the Aquino government’s US instigated counter insurgency program, robbery with homicide is a common escape hatch for assassinating perceived enemy of the state and those who refuse to be cowed down.
It is the same hat trick the enemies of the people had used to camouflage the assassination of former Obispo Maximo Alberto Ramento of Iglesia Filipina Independiente, and Father William Tadena of the same religious community.
As per record, 13 extrajudicial killings have been recorded under PNoy Aquino’s reign. Since 2001, a total 53 environmental advocates were murdered in the country, with two others that involuntarily that have been involuntarily disappeared, two more surviving attempts on their lives, and one abducted and tortured. Not a single case has been resolved.
There is no doubt in our minds that the killers and whoever sent them wanted to make a statement – one that wants to instill fear to the hearts of those who sincerely want to serve the people. After all, Wim had had a lot of accusations leveled against him as a communist.
Wim loved life not only for himself, but for the multitude. Thus, he died in order to live.
Wilhelmus murio par vivir.
Wilhelmus overleden met het oog op live.
We call on the Aquino government to form a genuinely independent body to investigate the killing of Wilhelmus Geertman.
We call on the Dutch Embassy to pressure the Philippine government to serve justice to one of their noble citizens and to conduct an investigation into the brutal crime.
We call on church people, the workers and the peasants and other sectors to join us in our quest for justice for Willem Geertman.###