The family and their counsel view the resolution, which ruled that the killing of Willem Geertman was a robbery with homicide case, as “incredibly detached and blindly oblivious to the relevant and material circumstances surrounding the cold-blooded murder.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Finally, a resolution has been issued regarding the killing of Dutch missionary Willem Geertman but the victim’s colleagues are not happy about it.
In a resolution dated December 27, 2012, the Office of City Prosecutor in San Fernando, Pampanga recommended the filing of robbery with homicide charges against two suspects and John and Peter Does. A copy of the resolution was sent to Bulatlat.com by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), counsel for the Geertman family, which received a copy last week.
The resolution, signed by Assistant State Prosecutor Philip Tumala, cited People vs. Cabilto, which states that: “Essential in robbery with homicide is a nexus, an intimate connection between the robbery and the killing, whether the latter be prior or subsequent to the former or whether both crimes were committed at the same time.” Tumala deemed “it is immaterial where the victim was shot as long as it was established that there was taking of the personal property, whether prior to, subsequent thereto or simultaneously at the time of the killing, and regardless of his personal affiliation and advocacy.”
Geertman was shot dead by two assailants in front of the Alay Bayan Luzon Inc. (ABI) office in Telabastagan village, San Fernando, Pampanga on July 3, 2012. One of the suspects took his shoulder bag, which contained cash and documents.
“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,” Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said in a statement.
Geertman, a Dutch national, worked for 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 involved in disaster response, when he was gunned down.
Edre Olalia, NUPL secretary general, expressed disappointment that the resolution “fell for the dubious police theory that it was not a premeditated murder.”
The City of San Fernando Police Station 4 (Compac-4) ruled the killing as a case of robbery with homicide.
Joseph Canlas, co-convenor of Justice for Willem Geertman Movement (J4WGM) and chairman of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL), said it is apparent that the police has not dug any deeper in investigating the case.
“The grossly erroneous, if not mechanical, conclusion reached by the Resolution, borne by inexcusable incompetence influenced by sloppy if not complicit police investigation, is also a disgrace to the prosecution service,” Olalia said.
Olalia deemed the resolution as “incredibly detached and blindly oblivious to the relevant and material circumstances surrounding the cold-blooded murder.”
“Geertman’s killing was carefully planned and executed, because of his active support and participation in the struggle of poor farmers, as well as campaign against mining in the region,” Canlas maintained.
Palabay said 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 human rights leader said Geertman 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 said.
The J4WGM pointed out that Geertman’s killing is “part of the comprehensive attack of the Aquino government against the people’s democratic rights under the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan.” Citing data from Karapatan, the J4WGM said extrajudicial killings remain unabated, with 137 victims under the Aquino administration.
The J4WGM said that Geertman’s fiancé, Aurora Santiago, through her legal counsel, would appeal the resolution so that the proper criminal case would be filed against the assailants.
The group called on the police to arrest the suspects, Harold Dela Cruz, Marvin Marsan and others, and for the prosecutors’ office to dig deeper into the identify of the mastermind.
Karapatan, meanwhile, called on Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to look into the case and come out with an accurate finding on the killing of Geertman.
The groups said the resolution bodes ill for their search for justice.
“Ignoring the extant facts and evidence itself perpetuates impunity for extrajudicial killing cases,” Olalia said.