Feb 262013

The fiancée of slain Dutch development worker Wilhelm Geertman on Tuesday urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to upgrade the criminal charges filed against the suspects in the killing from the current robbery with homicide to murder and robbery. 

In a petition for review filed with the DOJ, Maria Aurora Agustin Santiago contested the prosecutor’s recommendation that the lesser complex crime of robbery with homicide should be slapped against the suspects in the July 2012 killing.

The suspects in the case are Harold Dela Cruz, Marvin Marsan and several Jane and John Does. 

“This is not merely about an investigating prosecutor’s error in the appreciation of the facts and the pieces of evidence before him,” said Santiago’s legal counsel, Edre Olalia. “The bigger picture is, as in this case, the propensity to ignore and cover-up state responsibility in extrajudicial killings contributes to the impunity and obscures the political nature of the attack.”

The camp of Geertman insisted that his death was a case of extra-judicial killing because the suspects “went into the trouble of making him ignominiously kneel down thereby costing them several minutes before they were able to carry out their alleged plan.”

Geertman was shot at close range at the Alay Bayan-Luson Inc. (ABI) headquarters in San Fernando, Pampanga, by two unidentified gunmen who fled in a motorcycle. He was the executive director of ABI, a non-government organization (NGO) that is active in land issues and disaster response.

“Geertman, who is known for his commitment to work for the poor and the underprivileged, has made him a target of political persecution. In fact, state agents accused Geertman of being a communist supporter,” said the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, which extends legal assistance to the camp of Geertman.

Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) chairperson Joseph Canlas earlier confirmed that Geertman had withdrawn P1.2 million for an ABI project because the group’s Board of Trustees had decided to transfer the money to another bank. Canlas is also chairman of the ABI Board of Trustees.

AMGL and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) condemned the killing, accusing “military agents” as the perpetrators of the Dutch’s killing. The Philippine Army has since denied any hand in the killing.

William Villareal, a journalist from Pampanga who witnessed Geertman’s shooting first hand, said the foreign national’s gunmen wore bull caps, making them difficult to identify.

Villareal, however, described the gunmen as “stocky, have dark complexion and wearing jackets of different colors.”

He added the suspects followed Geertman through the gates of the ABI headquarters’ compound before shooting him. — Mark Merueñas/RSJ/KBK, GMA News

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