Foreign Missionaries Becoming Dangerous In The Philippines

The recent murder of a 67-year-old community worker, Dutch Willem Geertman outraged the Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa, Auckland Philippines Solidarity, and Wellington Kiwi Pinoy.

PSNA secretary Murray Horton said that President Benigno Aquino III’s administration has failed to protect foreigners who serve the people who are experiencing poverty in the Philippines.

“Now with two killings of European nationals under Aquino, the government’s failure to stop impunity is turning the Philippines into one of the most dangerous places for foreign missionaries,” the groups said who are referring also to the killing of Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio, a 59-year old Italian missionary in Mindanao more than a year ago.

“It’s not fun when foreign nationals serving amongst poor and deprived sectors in the Philippines are also targeted by armed forces that operate in defense of the interests of government, mining, big business and landlords instead of the protection of the rights of the poor,” Horton said.

According to APS spokesperson Cameron Walker, their group will lead a protest action this weekend in one of the landmarks in Auckland, New Zealand to call for justice and end to impunity in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, rights group Karapatan said Geertman was a faithful supporter of Hacienda Luisita farmers in Tarlac and the indigenous ones who are against the APECO project in the province of Aurora. “He is the 95th victim of extra-judicial killing under Aquino,” Karapatan spokesperson Cristina Palabay said.

Geertman was shot by two men riding in tandem in front of his office inside L&S subdivision in Angeles City at around 12:45 p.m.

Fred Villareal, vice-chairman of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in Pampanga, said the gunmen also pointed their pistol at him when he tried to run after them to get the plate number of their getaway motorcycle. Villareal added that Geertman and three of his staff members arrived at their office in his Isuzu vehicle after withdrawing money from Metrobank when the two suspects parked their motorcycle outside the ABI compound.

“I had just emailed my story, which I did on the terrace of the office when I saw the suspects holding Willem, who was then kneeling. That’s when the shot rang out. I then tried to rush towards them but one suspect pointed his gun at me. I again ran after them as they fled to get the plate number of their motorcycle, but one of the suspects again pointed his gun at me before they fled,” he said.

Villareal also said that the suspects did not bother to cover their faces although they were wearing baseball caps and jackets. He said the suspects could have followed the victim from the bank, although he could not remember seeing them flee with any envelop or bag in which the victim could have placed the money.

However, a later report said that the gunmen fled with the victim’s bag, which contained about P1.2 million.

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