Willem Geertman. (Photo by ICCHRP/NFS)
“We fully support the petition to the Dutch parliament and we renew our call for justice for Willem. We welcome the parliament's acceptance and hope it would result positve development on his case,” said Joseph Canlas, Amgl chairperson and chair of ABI's Board of Trustees. He is also a convenor of the Justice for Willem Geertman Movement.
“We convey our message to the Dutch embassy and government, that the Aquino government is ruling with impunity, targetting those who dissent and implement systematic human rights violations. It is coined by his counter-insurgency program Operational Plan Bayanihan and the tally of the killed and victims is ever increasing,” Canlas said.
Amgl criticized the Aquino government for dismissing the issue of human rights, particularly during his state visit in New Zealand, considering them as mere “leftist propaganda.” The group added that Aquino's family, the Cojuangco-Aquinos has been always involved in human rights violations, particularly in repressing the farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita. Aquino's mother, former president Corazon Aquino has been involved with the 1987 Mendiola Massacre and her “Total War Policy” during her time. On November 16, 2004, striking farmworkers have been massacred by government forces.
“There is enough evidence that Willem was killed politically but the Aquino government has done nothing essentially. The perpetrators have been identified but no arrests have been made yet. This is neglect promotes more extra-judicial killings as justice is never sought by the government,” Canlas said.
Amgl said that Geertman's killing is clearly patterned on Aquino's Oplan Bayanihan, a copy-cat of its predecessor Oplan Bantay Laya during the Arroyo administration. Oplan Bayanihan is targetting supporters from the middle sector aiding the struggles and campaigns of the basic sectors such as the farmers, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, workers, urban poor and more. Geertman was killed at his office in San Fernando, Pampanga on July 3 and was witnessed by his colleagues. The assailants' entry and escape were captured by a local CCTV.
Based on the statement of Nederlands-Filippijns Solidariteitsbeweging (Dutch Philippine Solidarity Movement), the petition was filed by a delegation team composed of Aurora Santiago (Willem's fiancee), a staff of ABI, Herman Geertmen (brother of Willem), Archbishop Joris A.O.L. Vercammen of the Old Catholic Church, Rys de los Santos of the Philippine youth organization Samaka.Nl, Ton Groeneweg of Mensen met een Missie (People with a Mission), Angie Gonzales of the International Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines and Theo Droog, chairman of the Dutch-Philippines Solidarity Movement.
The petition was received by Alexander Pechtold, of the Democtrats 66 Party, acting Chairman of the Foreign Affairs of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, and member of Parliament. He was accompanied by parliament members , Desiree Bonis of the Labor Party (PVDA) , Jasper van Dijk of the Socialist Party (SP), Pieter Omtzigt of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and Sjoerd Sjoerdsma of D66. Pechtold welcomed the delegation and expressed condolences for the death of Geertman.
Upon receipt of the petition, Pechtold presented a sketch of Geertman, as a man who stood up for the workers, farmers and indigenous people. He also stated that Geertmen was the 17th environmental activist who was killed under the current government of Aquino and sixth this year. He said that the petition would be discussed with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans within the week.
Following the filing, more than 50 Geertman's supporters and family held a short program outside the parliament building amidst the cold weather.
“We echo the call for justice for Willem and we hold the Aquino government for his death. Aquino should quit dismissing the issue of human rights as mere propaganda. Even the Dutch parliamentarians are concerned of the incessant killings in our country, but Aquino who considers himself as president is treating it as a non-issue,” Canlas said. #