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Dutch parliamentarians receive Willem Geertman petition

Nederlands-Filippijns Solidariteitsbeweging (Dutch-Filipino Solidarity Movement)

Herman Geertman, brother of Willem, and Aurora Santiago, speaking with the media before the presentation of the petition to Dutch parliamentarians.

The petition on “the call for independent investigation of and justice for the murder of Willem Geertman” was presented on 06 November 2012 to the Permanent Commission for Foreign Affairs of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament.

The petition was received by Alexander Pechtold, of the Democtrats 66 Party(D66), and acting Chairman of the commission 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. Mr. Pechtold welcomed the delegation and expressed condolences for the death of Willem Geertman.

The members of the delegation were Aurora Santiago (Willem’s partner), Theresa Britanico (staff of Alay Bayan of which Willem was the director), Herman Geertmen (brother of Willem), Archbishop Joris A.O.L. Vercammen of the Old Catholic Church, Rhys de los Santos of the Philippine youth organization Samaka NL, Ton Groeneweg of Mensen met een Missie (People with a Mission), Angie M. Gonzales of the International Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, and Theo Droog, Chairman of the Dutch-Filipino Solidarity Movement, who led the delegation.

Aurora Santiago asked for support for the struggle for justice for Willem. Willem was murdered in San Fernando Pampanga, on 3 July 2012, most probably because of his political standpoints. Santiago has filed a murder case. Despite clear photos of the killers, there is no development in the case after four months. Theresa Britanico added that Willem was killed in the presence of his colleagues. According to them, the murder is a clear statement that he was killed due to his resistance to mining, logging and such cases which cause the destruction of the environment.

Willem Geertman lived in the Philippines for several years, and helped the poor to stand up for their rights to their land. He was the executive director of Alay Bayan, a relief and rehabilitation organization. Britanico stated that the “task force” formed by the Philippine police is not seriously proceeding with the case. Aurora Santiago and Theresa Britanico asked the Dutch government to pressure the Philippine authorities to carry out an independent investigation, other than the task force, so that justice can prevail.

Theo Droog, in presenting the petition that has been signed by almost 600 persons, 23 organizations and 6 alliances, said that all signatories ask the Dutch government to help bring out the truth and attain justice for Willem Geertman. They asked that no stone be left unturned to find those who shot and killed Willem Geertman, and hopefully contribute to end ing impunity in the Philippines.

After receiving the petition, Alexander Pechtold presented a sketch of Willem Geertman, as a man who stood up for the workers, farmers and indigenous people. Pechtold 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 a fair process is very important. Within the week, the petition will be discussed with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans.

After the presentation of the petition there was a program in front of the Dutch Parliament. Despite the cold weather, there were some 50 sympathizers carrying pictures of Willem Geertman, and demanding justice for him. Aurora Santiago thanked everyone for their support. She was pleased with the meeting with the Permanent Commission for Foreign Affairs and the promise of Alexander Pechtold that they would discuss the petition next week.

Below are photos of the presentation of the petition and the gathering in Het Plein (Photos by Angie M. Gonzales, ICCHRP).

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