MANILA, July 4, 2013— It’s been a year since the killing of Dutch missionary Bro. Willem Geertman.
Geertman, 67, was shot dead July 3, 2012 in San Fernando, Pampanga. Authorities said the missionary was killed in an apparent robbery attempt.
Yet as the anniversary of Geertman’s death was marked yesterday, his family and supporters got some unsettling news.
The case against the perpetrators, who were caught on CCTV camera, could be in peril.
An interfaith organization said that despite the “prima facie” evidence and other witness statements, the authorities failed to make arrests and held the suspects accountable before the bar of justice.
The Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) lamented that the charges filed against the suspects were ‘downgraded” to simple robbery with homicide for a case, which for them, was clearly an extra-judicial murder.
“Such legal moves of the police department bear similarities to how they address cases of extra-judicial killings during the time of former President Gloria Arroyo,” the PCPR said.
“It is all the more disappointing that series of dialogue with the Department of Justice initiated by families and supporters of Bro. Willem, until this day, end up with no final resolution of the case,” it said.
Geertman was a known land reform advocate who had been helping the cause of Hacienda Luisita farmers. He was also a vocal critic against mining and a human rights defender of the indigenous peoples.
He was killed in the premises of Alay Bayan, Inc., a relief and rehabilitation group, which he headed for several years.
“It is very alarming that state departments water down cases of political in nature,” they said. “The method of killing is a reason of doubt that the motive of the assassins was to rob the life out of Bro. Willem and not simply after any amount of money.”
The PCPR claimed that Geertman was the fourth victim among church people of the 142 victims of extra-judicial killings under the Aquino administration.
“We reiterate our call to the Aquino government to stop the killings and put an end to the prevailing culture of impunity. Perpetrators must be made accountable at the immediate,” it said. (CBCPNews)