Statement on the killing of Willem Geertman
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines has spoken in alarm and protest against continuing impunity.
We lament the death of Willem Geertman, executive director of the Alay Bayan, Inc. (ABI), a relief and disaster NGO based in Pampanga. We reach out to his family, friends and co-workers. We reach out to the people and communities touched by his life and example and pained by this tragic loss.
While we mourn, his brutal assassination is an act worthy of utmost condemnation. Reports say he was gunned down in broad day light near his office by two motorcycle-riding men. Known for his advocacy in defence of farmers especially in Hacienda Luisita and his compassion for disaster victims, his killing cannot be dismissed as an act of robbery as was the police conclusion in the assassination of The Most Reverend Alberto Ramento in Tarlac. It goes beyond that to the brazen assault on people who take it their vocation to help marginalised people attain their full humanity. The killing of Geertman builds on the sad chapter of continuing extra-judicial killings in this country. We will not dwell on the statistics, but, we decry the failure of the government to arrest and prosecute perpetrators of this wanton taking of human lives. The human rights record of the Philippines has been examined by the United Nation Human Rights Council, recently and those member-countries agree with human rights watchdogs that the Philippine government needs to do much much more in complying with human rights protocols it has signed.
We stand on the inviolability of human life and no one has the right to tamper with somebody else’s life much more to take that life away. We stand on the Christian vision of a community or country where the humanity of each person deserves all the respect regardless of their economic or political status.
Thus, we join the demand for justice for Geertman and others felled by assassins’ bullets. This call becomes more urgent as the impunity heightens, and earlier killings remain unresolved.
Christian social responsibility is meant for the attainment of a community or society which promotes healthy and life-sustaining human relationships. We are called to live in community where our differences are understood as our uniqueness, each contributing to the enrichment of the same towards the attainment of the divine promise of abundant life for all. (John 10:10)
The Most Rev. Ephraim S. Fajutagana, Chairperson
The Rev. Rex RB Reyes, Jr, General Secretary