“We will always remember Willem for his commitment to Central Luzon farmers. Hence, we are renewing our call for justice”, according to Joseph Canlas, AMGL chairperson and chairman of the board of ABI.
The group said that Geertman has worked to serve the farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita, the affected farmers of Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Act (Apeco) in Aurora, Pangasinan farmers who are affected by flash floods caused by San Roque dam, Zambales farmers affected by mining and farmers from different provinces who are usually affected by projects that destroy the environment.
“His murder is a copycat of what took place during Arroyo's Oplan Bantay Laya in the region. Now in Aquino's Oplan Bayanihan, it is the same brutal measure being carried out by agents of the military,” Canlas said.
The group said that the sudden releases of water from dams destroyed the livelihood of many farmers in the region, endangered their safety and threatened their health. Based on the data of NDRRMC, more than 2 million individuals or 629,035 families were affected by the calamity in the region including Pangasinan province. The total number of flood- affected individuals in Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, NCR and Ilocos region is more than 4 million individuals or 924, 948 families. Also, according to the partial data of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS-DA), the damage was valued at P419.5 million as about 40,000 hectares of rice lands were flooded.
“We are very much saddened that farmers in the region would again suffer poverty, hunger and indebtedness as result of flooding. In Zambales, six barangays of Sta. Cruz town were heavily affected by flooding as six mining companies operates in the said areas. In Pangasinan and Tarlac, many towns were submerged by floods caused by water release of San Roque dam located in San Manuel, Pangasinan. In Pampanga and Bulacan, flash flood was caused by water released by Angat dam”, Canlas stated.
In addition, Geertman's partner filed murder cases on August 16 against a certain Marvin Marsan of brgy. Tangle, Mexico town and Harold Dela Cruz of brgy. Cacutud, Arayat town, in Pampanga. Marsan was the gunman and is a known military agent handled by Philippine Army intelligence officer Lieutenant Vidi Tababa. The prosecution was able to obtain a photograph of Marsan that made his identification possible. The suspects were also caught on the CCTV of L&S Subdivision in Angeles City.
“We honor Willem by pursuing the case against his killers and continuing his work of helping farmers in the region. It is the Aquino government who perpetrates the killing of those who help the rural poor, and implementing projects that destroys our livelihood,” Canlas said.
“As Willem usually say, that we may be poor and powerless but our strength comes from our unity, we appeal to different sectors to help us in holding our relief and rehabilitation programs at areas that were hit by flash floods,” he added.
Amgl is currently conducting their relief drive dubbed as Oplan Sagip Kanayunan-Gitnang Luson, which is closely coordinated with Abi and Anakpawis Partylist. This is the regional formation of the nationwide campaign Oplan Sagip Kanayunan, led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Pamalakaya (fisherfolk), Amihan (peasant women) and Uma (agri-workers). The relief drive has recently benefitted poor farmers in Binmaley and Calasiao towns in Pangasinan. #