By Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON
Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle
The International Coordinating Committee and all the member-organizations of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle vigorously condemn the extrajudicial killing of the Dutch development worker Willem Geertman (formal name: Wilhelminus JJ Lutz Geertman) last 03 July 2012 in Angeles City, Philippines by gunmen acting in the modus operandi of the death squads fielded by the Aquino regime in the scheme of the US-designed Oplan Bayanihan.
We share the grief over the brutal murder of Willem with his family, the masses who knew him and all the friends, colleagues and partners that he accumulated in the decades of his work as an advocate of development, social justice, environmental protection and disaster relief. He was a resolute and militant defender of the rights of workers, peasants and the indigenous peoples.
The people closest to Willem testify to the fact that he had been under close surveillance by military intelligence prior to his brutal murder in front of the Alay Bayan Inc. (ABI) office of which he was the Executive Director. Although the programmes and projects of ABI enjoyed the high regard or support of the National Secretariat for Social Action of the Catholic Bishops Conference, Caritas International and respectable institutions in the European Union, he gained the suspicion and ire of powerful politicians and the military for being close to and cooperative with the oppressed and exploited people and their organizations.
The ABI has supported the struggle of the farm workers for land in Hacienda Luisita and is affiliated with the Alyansang Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luson, the mother organization of the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid ng Asyenda Luisita. The ABI has also been part of the people’s opposition to the Aurora Pacific Special Economic Zone and Free Port project in Casiguran, Aurora due to the extreme adverse consequences of these to the rural people and the environment. The ABI has cooperated with Bayan-Muna in disaster relief activities in Central Luzon.
Willem was an outstanding model of ecumernism and internationalism. He originally belonged to the progressive group of Catholic religious and lay missionaries called Calama, who dedicated themselves to serving the exploited and oppressed people in the third world. He was always ready to dialogue and cooperate with forces of whatever thought or belief in order to achieve social justice.
We are proud of the fact that he attended the Fourth International Assembly of the ILPS in Manila last year and exchanged ideas and experiences with the delegations from various countries. He came with the progressive Filipino organizations he had long cooperated with on the road of seeking national liberation, democracy, social justice, development, international solidarity and peace.
Willem demonstrated his high sense of internationalism by giving up the relative comfort and opportunities in an industrial capitalist country, choosing the Philippines as the focus of his work, learning to speak Tagalog like a native and going through extended periods of living as a worker in Manila and then as a rural activist. He worked at length with Bishop Labayen in defending the peasants and indigenous people.
When he took a leave for a few years from the Philippines in the 1990s, he lived the life of a Dutch worker and became active in the workers movement in The Netherlands. At the same time, he contributed a part of his personal earnings to worthy causes in the Philippines and continued to think of and feel the Philippines as his home and often associated himself with the Filipino community in The Netherlands. When he decided to return to the Philippines, he said to his Dutch and Filipino comrades and friends that he was going home.
It is sad that in sharp contrast to all his love for the Filipino people and his long service to them, the killing machine of the US-directed Aquino regime targeted him for murder. His extrajudicial killing follows that of the Italian missionary Fr. Faustino “Pops” Tentorio. It is also part of the long chain of murders associated with the stubborn scheme of the Aquino-Cojuangco dynasty to keep Hacienda Luisita by hook or by crook.
It is somehow connected with the recent murder of BAYAN Muna leader Romualdo Palispis of Aurora under the shadow of the Angara dynasty. It appears that the Aquino-Cojuangco and Angara political dynasties are hell bent on connecting the sham development projects in Subic, Tarlac and Aurora with an uneconomic highway and in the process grabbing land and huge amounts of public money for themselves through their chosen private contractors.
The International League of Peoples’ Struggle calls on all its member-organizations in the world to generate a broad popular campaign for denouncing human rights violations by the Aquino regime and demanding justice for Willem Geertman and to support the broad masses of the Filipino people and their organized forces, including the ILPS member organizations in the Philippines, in undertaking united action for the purpose of seeking and attaining justice in the case of Willem Geertman.
The people of the Philippines and the world must not allow the Aquino regime and its military minions to commit heinous crimes with impunity. Information campaigns and mass mobilizations are the most urgently needed. At the same time, the ILPS offers the assistance of its lawyers and human rights activists to press for thorough investigation of the crime against Willem Geertman and the prosecution and punishment of the culprits.