PH a dangerous place for foreign missionaries

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos and families Migrante International condemned in strongest terms the extrajudicial killing of Wiillem Geertman, a Dutch lay missionary who lived and worked closely with the farmers in Central Luzon for four decades.

Geertman was executive director of Alay Bayan Inc, a disaster relief organization based in central Luzon. He was shot dead in front of his office Sto. Domingo village in Angeles City by unidentified gunmen yesterday.

He was a staunch supporter of peasant groups and people’s organizations in Central Luzon. At the time of his death, Geertman was also active in opposing the establishment of the Aurora Pacific Special Economic Zone and Free Port in the province.

“It is a tragedy when foreign nationals who chose to leave the comforts of their homes abroad to serve amongst the poor sectors in the Philippines are also now under threat because of their political beliefs, missionary work and bias for the Filipino masses. Geertman’s murder sends a chilling message to the international community. The Philippines has become a dangerous place for foreign missionaries,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Geertman was the second European national who was a victim of extrajudicial killing under Aquino’s term. In October last year, Italian priest Fausto Tentorio was shot and killed in Arakan, Mindanao.

“Wiillem and Fr. Pops both devoted their lives to protect the interests of our countrymen. Their deaths are testament to how the Aquino government, in defense of the present system, protects the interests of big businesses and landlords at the expense of the poor,” said Martinez.

“Geertman’s murder is proof of the Aquino administration’s insincerity to end impunity and its continuous vilification of members and leaders of people’s and activist organizations. The present government’s dismal human rights record is compounded by the fact that suspected military elements and masterminds of EJKs and human rights violations continue to be emboldened because none have been arrested, prosecuted and punished since Pres. Aquino took office,” he said.

“We join all overseas Filipinos and the international community in calling for justice for the death of Geertman. We are disgraced by this government’s failure to stop extrajudicial killings.”###