Dutch environmental activist shot dead

A DUTCH environmental advocate based in the Philippines was killed this afternoon in front of his office in Sto. Domingo, Angeles City Pampanga.

Willem Geertman is the executive director of Alay Bayan Inc. (ABI), a non-government organization that works on community-based and development-oriented responses in addressing the vulnerabilities stemming from poverty, powerlessness, environmental degradation and political abuse. Together with other environmental and civic organizations, Geertman and the ABI campaigned for disaster risk reduction and environmental concerns in Central Luzon.

“We strongly denounce the murder of Geertman, who was a very active advocate against large-scale mining in Pampanga and Zambales provinces. The military forces in the area should be immediately investigated as there are several complaints and records of them involved in human rights violations against anti-mining activists like Geertman,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

Geertman came to the Philippines as a Dutch missionary and later devoted his life in community development and NGO work in Central Luzon. He was actively involved in land rights and environmental protection issues and concerns in the region particularly forest protection in Aurora, Pampanga and Zambales against logging and mining.

Geertman is the 17th environmental activist killed under the Aquino administration and 6th this year.

“The Aquino administration is inutile in stopping the impunity against environmental workers. The Aquino administration has a bloodier average record than the previous Arroyo administration. Worse, Pres. Aquino encourages killings and human rights violations among environmental activists by defending destructive projects like large-scale mining and commercial logging. The administration also gave orders to military and paramilitary forces to give protection and serve as security forces of mining and logging companies,” Bautista said.

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