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MANILA, Philippines -- Dutch Ambassador to the Philippines Robert Brinks on Friday pressed the government to get the killers of development worker Willem Geertman.
In a short statement emailed to media outfits, Brinks, who said he was shocked and saddened by the murder, noted Geertman’s years of involvement with local development and humanitarian organizations and hoped authorities will hold those responsible for the killing accountable.
Geertman, 67, executive director of the nongovernmental Alay Bayan Luzon Inc. was shot dead by two gunmen outside his office in San Fernando, Pampanga.
Police have suggested the murder was the offshoot of a robbery but human rights and activist groups suspect state security forces to be behind the killing, noting that Geertman had long been the target of vilification and harassment by the military, which had painted him as a member of the communist revolutionary movement.
“Human rights remain one of the important pillars of Dutch foreign policy,” Brinks said.
“In partnership with local human rights organizations, the embassy has supported dialogues with the Philippines Commission on Human Rights, law enforcement, and human rights defenders. It is our hope that these projects will also contribute to addressing impunity,” he added.
Geertman was the second European community worker killed during the term of President Benigno Aquino, after Italian missionary Fr. Fausto Tentorio, who was also an anti-mining advocate and environmentalist who championed the causes of the indigenous peoples Mindanao.
Tentorio was gunned down in the church compound of Arakan, North Cotabato in October last year. (with Joseph Holandes Ubalde, InterAksyon.com)