MANILA, Philippines – Wilhelm Geertman, a Dutch non-government organization official and missionary, was shot dead in front of his office at Rue de Paree Street, L&S Subdivision in Angeles City, Pampanga at around 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 3.
According to Roman Polintan, chairperson of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Central Luzon, an unidentified gunman shot Geertman in the back. Geertman’s colleagues brought him to the hospital but he was declared dead at about 1 p.m., Polintan told Rappler. Geertman was said to be in his early 60s.
Geertman, executive director of the disaster management NGO Alay Bayan Inc, has resided in the Philippines for the past 46 years. He has also worked with farmers in rural communities.
Polintan suspects that the killing was politically motivated.
“His advocacy against the reigning culture of impunity in the country and his anti-mining stance made him a sure target of the powers that be,” Polintan said.
It’s not the first time that members of Alay Bayan were harassed. On May 6, 2004, unidentified men raided and ransacked the Alay Bayan office in Angeles. They also tied up the NGO workers who were in the office.
In a statement, BAYAN said it has worked with Wilhelm on relief missions, particularly last year in Nueva Ecija and Aurora in the aftermath of typhoon Pedring in September 2011.
Alay Bayan facilitated the BAYAN-led Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan (BALSA) relief operation, BAYAN secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr said.
Geertman is the second European community worker killed during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III. On Oct 17, 2011, gunmen killed Italian priest Fausto “Father Pops” Tentorio, a staunch anti-mining proponent, in Arakan, North Cotabato.
Only last week, the New York-based Human Rights Watch urged the Aquino government to act on human rights abuses and hold authorities accountable for the killing and harassment of activists. – Rappler.com
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