Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, Inc. (EILER), a labor NGO based in Quezon City, strongly condemns the recent killing of two civil society leaders, Romualdo Palispis and William Geertman, in separate incidents on Saturday and Tuesday.
Romualdo Palispis, chair of Justice and Peace Action Group of Aurora (JPAG) and head of Task Force Huwag Hatiin ang Bayan ng Maria Aurora (Do Not Divide Maria Aurora), was shot dead Saturday evening in his house in the town of Maria Aurora. He was active in opposing the proposal to reduce Maria Aurora’s lands to create a municipality out of it.
Meanwhile, William Geertman, executive director of disaster relief NGO Alay Bayan Inc., was gunned down in his office in Angeles City on Tuesday afternoon. He has lived in the Philippines for the past 46 years.
The murder of Palispis and Geertman affirms the failure of the Aquino administration to protect even human rights defenders and advocates in the country, which is ironically cited for a vibrant NGO community. Their profiles indicate that their assassination is politically motivated and could be part of the government’s counterinsurgency program “Oplan Bayanihan.”
We call for an immediate investigation and swift justice for all victims of politically-motivated killings in the country. We also challenge the Aquino administration to take urgent action over the spate of killings happening under its watch.