Life imprisonment for murder of environmental defender Willem Geertman in the Philippines

In the Philippines, a man was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Dutch environmental defender Willem Geertman. Geertman had been living in the Philippines for over 40 years. Together with the local community, he resisted new mining activities in the country. In 2012, he was shot and killed in broad daylight.

Header photo: (c) Victor Barro

Every week, four people are killed because they defend nature. In 2012, Dutchman Willem Geertman was one of them. Despite having been threatened several times, he kept resisting the new mining activities in his second home country, the Philippines, until the bitter end.

At the time, his death was played off as a robbery with murder, although human rights defenders suspect that Geertman was killed because of his efforts against mining. In the documentary ‘War on Minerals’, documentary maker Jacco Groen tries to get to the truth of what happened.

No justice yet

Although Geertman’s widow is pleased with the verdict, she stresses that there is still no full justice. ‘The one who was holding the gun has been found guilty, but the one who gave the instruction is still free,’ she said to newspaper The Inquirer. Oftentimes, paramilitary groups, the army, the police or private security gards turn out to be involved in violence against environmental defenders. Presumably, they have connections to governments or corporations who benefit from the arrival of, for instance, a mining company. 

Liliana Jauregui
Liliana Jauregui
Senior Expert Environmental Justice