Rights advocates deplore prosecutors findings over Dutch activist killing – victim of robbers not by conspiracy

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By Joey Natividad
Special Correspondent

CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region (BicolToday.com/15-Feb-2013) – The killing of Dutch lay worker, Wilhelm Geertman, was a simple case of homicide with robbery, and not a highly-motivated murder believed to be allegedly instigated by state agents . These were the findings of government prosecutors after conducting thorough investigation over the killing of the Dutch citizen who had been involved in environment conservation and anti-mining crusades.

The prosecutors’ findings has caused sharp reactions among human rights groups over the week and human rights advocates deplored the “State’s attempt to downplay the killing of Geertman as an ordinary victim by thieves and robbers, and an attempt to whitewash any State liability over the protection of foreign nationals who are working to protect the Philippines’ environment,” Bicol Today.com learned on Thursday, February 14.

“Geertman’s death is state-perpetrated, it is a case of extrajudicial killing,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, in reaction to the resolution issued by the Office of the City Prosecutor in San Fernando City, Pampanga on the killing of Dutch lay worker, Wilhelm Geertman.

The resolution on the preliminary investigation finds probable cause to file a Robbery with Homicide, and NOT MURDER charge against respondents Harold L. Dela Cruz, Marvin Marsan, et al. Copy of the prosecutors’ resolution on Geertman can be downloaded, as attached with this news article. See …….

“The resolution contains a major pitfall, laced with malice, when it disregarded the context and the whole circumstance of Geertman’s killing – that he was targeted by state agents, that he was killed to send a chilling political message, and that it is ultimately the state which stood to benefit from his death. The resolution thus absolves the Aquino government and its state security forces from accountability,” Palabay added.

Wilhelm Geertman, a lay development worker and anti-mining activist, was slain last July 3, 2012 in San Fernando City, Pampanga, north of Metro Manila. He is a Dutch national who worked more than 40 years in the Philippines, specifically in Baler, Aurora helping farmers and establishing peoples’ organizations. He was the Executive Director of Alay-Bayan Luzon, an NGO on disaster response, when he was gunned down.

“Had Geertman been the usual visiting foreigner, the case of robbery with homicide would have been appropriate, but he was not. Geertman was an activist. He fought against destructive mining, against landgrabbing and other projects that displaced the peasants and indigenous peoples in Aurora. He received threats and was a victim of red-tagging by the military prior to his death. His killers could not only be mere petty criminals,” Palabay informed Bicol Today.com.

“This is similar to the case of former Supreme Bishop Alberto Ramento of the Iglesia Filipina Indipendiente, who was murdered in 2006 at the Bishop’s residence in Tarlac. The authorities also dismissed the case as robbery, citing that his DVD player was stolen,” Palabay said. “But everyone knew of Bishop Ramento’s involvement in, and support to the struggle of Hacienda Luisita farm workers, and that caused his ‘neutralization,'” Palabay cited.

“We call on Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to look into this case and come out with an accurate finding on the killing of Geertman. We stand by our belief that it is politically motivated murder,” Palabay said. [BicolToday.com]

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