POSTSCRIPT / July 5, 2012 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Unsolved murders haunt PNoy admin

CLARK FIELD — It is premature, and a bit unfair, to accuse the military of the gunning down Tuesday noon in Angeles City of a Dutch missionary who had been supporting Hacienda Luisita worker-tenants.

Peasant and human rights advocacy groups are blaming the military and the Aquino administration general for the murder of Willem Geertman, 67, in front of his Alay Bayan Inc. office in the L&S subdivision in Angeles.

The ABI executive director was shot in the back while kneeling. The killers, who fled on the usual motorbike, wore only baseball caps, not helmets or masks, seemingly confident they would get away with the public execution.

His murder followed the pattern of physical elimination of critics of government, but proof is needed to pinpoint the killers, the mastermind, and the motives.

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PAT CONCLUSION: It is difficult for the authorities to stop a determined killer, especially in this country where human life is cheap and where officials do not seem to care that citizens are being swatted down like flies.

The test of President Noynoy Aquino, whose own family had been a victim of state persecution, is not so much the prevention of such casual assassinations, as in solving them fast and making the masterminds pay.

The police should not take the line of least resistance by saying Geertman was a victim of robbers riding in tandem, making a big point of his having come from a bank where he withdrew a large sum and of the killers taking his bag.

But neither should the crowd in the left fringes, and their allies across the seas, cry state execution almost by reflex just because Geertman was a fellow worker and actually had a number of run-ins with the military.

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BLOODY IMAGE: President Aquino should be concerned that Geertman is being mentioned in the same breath as his family’s Hacienda Luisita. Even with his influence over mainstream media, the negative association may just stick.

Human rights groups have listed already Geertman as the 95th victim of extra-judicial killing under the Aquino regime.

Recalling the killing of 59-year-old Italian missionary Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio in Mindanao more than a year ago, concerned groups said the government’s failure to stop the impunity is turning the Philippines into one of the most dangerous places for foreign missionaries.

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CCTV VIDEO: Malacañang can help allay fears of a coverup by, among other steps, ordering the San Fernando police to return intact the L&S homeowners association’s CCTV video on the Geertman vicinity that Tuesday.

As I write this, sources said the police have not returned the tape they had borrowed from the L&S. The video reportedly showed, among other things, a motorbike and a vehicle in front of the ABI office.

Fears have been expressed that the CCTV tape may be tampered with — or lost!

(The San Fernando police stepped in probably because while the L&S gate is in Angeles, the Geertman office happens to be within the San Fernando portion of the subdivision.)

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WITNESS: After shooting Geertman, one of the gunmen pointed his pistol at Fred Villareal, vice chairman of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in Pampanga, when he tried to get the plate number of their motorcycle.

Villareal said Geertman and three staffers had just arrived on his Isuzu vehicle after withdrawing money from MetroBank when the two gunmen arrived.

He recalled: “I had just emailed my story, which I did on the terrace of the office when I saw the suspects holding Willem, who was then kneeling. That’s when the shot rang out. I tried to rush toward them but one of them pointed his gun at me. As they fled, I again ran after them to get the plate number, but one of them again pointed his gun at me.”

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FADING PRIZES: The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office should stop using the thermal paper of its Australian supplier and replace its equipment printing lottery tickets. It should get a printer that works with better paper stock whose print does not fade.

What dazzled the previous PCSO management that it failed to see the folly of signing a long-term contract and using thermal paper whose print fades long before the one-year deadline for the claiming of prizes?

One is tempted to ask if the fast-fading of Lotto tickets is not deliberate. Prizes that are not claimed (because the tickets had faded) automatically go to a Malacañang pot.

Every year, hundreds of million pesos in unclaimed prizes are dumped on the lap of President Aquino, making him the biggest Lotto winner without his having to buy a ticket.

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JVA REVOKED: The present PCSO board chaired by Margie Juico has moved to revoke the paper supply contract of the TMA Group of Companies Pty. Ltd. that ties up the lottery office for 50 (25+25) years.

Juico said the deal, passed off as a joint venture agreement instead of a straight supply contract, is “not within the PCSO’s corporate purpose and mandate, and is grossly prejudicial to the interests of PCSO.”

TMA has sued the PCSO to force it to honor the contract regardless of it terms that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has found to be grossly disadvantageous to the PCSO.

Aside from poring over his law books, the judge trying the case should buy a Lotto ticket and, if he wins, delay claiming his prize since he has one year to do it.

The judge could keep the ticket in his wallet or put it in his car glove compartment for a few weeks. He would discover to his horror that the numbers on his ticket had vanished– and with it his winnings.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 5, 2012)

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