San Fernando RTC finds suspect in Geertman murder guilty

A suspect in the killing of a Dutch lay missionary in Angeles City on July 3, 2012 was found guilty by the San Fernando City Regional Trial Court this morning.

A Marvin Marzan Nuguid, who described himself as a junkshop operator, was found guilty by Judge Christine Marie C. Capule for the killing of Willem Geertman and sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua or from 20 to 30 years in jail.

In its decision, the Court said it gave weight to the testimonies of prosecution witnesses identifying Nuguid as the one who shot Geertmen at his back with a calibre .38 revolver.

The Court added that Nuguid’s alibi that he was in his Mexico, Pampanga at the time of the crime was weak and could be easily fabricated.

Witnesses said that Nuguid and an accomplice forcibly Geertman’s office and threatened the victim and his two co-workers.

Geertman was sitting at the compound’s balcony when forced him to kneel down and shot at his back.

The witnesses said the assailant took Geertman’s bag containing cash before leaving the crime scene.

An activist missionary

Geertman worked for more than 40 years in the Philippines, specifically in Baler, Aurora helping farmers and establishing peoples’ organizations.

He was executive director of Alay-Bayan Luzon, an NGO involved in disaster response, when killed.

Church, peasant and human rights organizations condemned the crime as politically-motivated, owing to the victim’s close association with activist peasant and indigenous peoples’ organizations in Central Luzon.

In a resolution dated December 27, 2012, however, the Office of City Prosecutor in San Fernando, Pampanga recommended the filing of robbery with homicide charges against Geertman’s killers.

Human rights groups objected to the recommendation, saying the victim was an activist.

“Had Geertman been the usual visiting foreigner, the case of robbery with homicide would have been appropriate, but he was not. Geertman was an activist. He fought against destructive mining, against landgrabbing and other projects that displaced the peasants and indigenous peoples in Aurora,” Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said in a statement at the time.

Other suspects at large

The Court ordered Nuguid to indemnify Geertman’s heirs P75,000 as civil indemnity, P75,000 as moral damages, P75,000 exemplary damages and P50,000 as temperate damages.

Nuguid was acquitted of the crime of robbery.

The convict was accused along with certain Harold Libao Dela Cruz, and a John and Peter Doe who remain at large. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)