July 2012

 

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Statement on the Killing of Willem Geertman in the Philippines

National Council of Churches in the Philippines
 


Willem Geertman
(Photo from www.astm.lu)

Once more the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) is constrained to speak in alarm and protest against the continuing impunity in this country.

We lament the death of Willem Geertman, executive director of Alay Bayan Inc. (ABI), a relief and disaster non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Pampanga Province.

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 daylight near his office by two motorcycle-riding men. Known for his advocacy in defense 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 Rev. Alberto Ramento in Tarlac Province in 2006. It goes beyond that to the brazen assault on people who take it their vocation to help marginalized people attain their full humanity. The killing of Geertman builds on the sad chapter of continuing extrajudicial 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 more in complying with the 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

Rev. Rex R. B. Reyes Jr.
General Secretary

July 4, 2012