The group was composed of people’s organization under Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Central Luzon and national chapters), Karapatan human rights group, National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), Anakbayan Central Luzon, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Anakpawis Partylist and individuals from the church and legal sectors.
“Farmers in Central Luzon would never stop in seeking justice for Geertman. His advocacy for the rights of the landless farmers in the region would forever be remembered. Geertman’s legacy would be an inspiration to kababayans or other nationality in serving the oppressed and exploited farmers in the region,” stated by Joseph Canlas, AMGL chairperson and chairman of the board of trustees of ABI.
Amgl said that Geertman facilitated the relief and rehabilitation drive benefiting farmers devastated by natural calamities. In addition, Geertman opposed government programs and policies that are detrimental to the interests of farmers. He supported the struggle of the rural poor against land grabbing and displacement in the region such as Hacienda Luisita, Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Act of 2010 (APECO), mining operations in Zambales and many more.
“His life full of service and sacrifice made him a target of extra-judicial killing and this is the concretization of counter-insurgency program Operational Plan Bayanihan or Aquino’s national internal security plan (NISP), eradicating the middle sectors’ support to the the exploited and struggling masses by extra-judicial killing, harassment, intimidation and threat,” Canlas said.
Amgl said that Oplan Bayanihan is no different to Arroyo’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL). OBL resulted the extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances of many leaders of Amgl in Central Luzon, including their supporters from the church, local officials and other sectors.
“At present, houses of our local leaders are subjected to surveillance and threat,” Canlas said.
The group added that Oplan Bayanihan has stepped up its implementation in the region from mere civil-military operations (CMO) and black propaganda to actual extra-judicial killings and harassment. Amgl added that veteran journalist Ding Cervantes received death threats last week. Cervantes is correspondent to Philippine Star and columnist at Punto Central Luzon newspaper. He reported about sensitive issues such as Hacienda Luisita, Geertman’s killing, the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (Apeco) project, mining operations in Zambales and other agrarian issues in the region. Cervantes is a member of National Union of Journalist of the Philippines (NUJP), a group seeking justice for victims of media killings.
“What is occuring in the region is a blueprint of a counter-insurgency program of fascist government. Any freedom-loving and pro-democracy citizen would know that these are trademarks of a state attack on the democratic rights of the people, and they are at present encoined in Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan,” Canlas said.
“As we call for justice for Geertman, we are calling for other sectors to support the struggle of the farmers in the region. It is only by uplifting the welfare of poor peasants in the region, genuine development and justice would be attained,” Canlas ended. #