Makabayan bloc, groups slam killing of peasant leader Echanis, will stage protests
MANILA, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives and other activist groups slammed on Monday the killing of peasant leader Randall “Randy” Echanis, a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and vowed to stage protests in the coming days.
Lawmakers belonging to party-lists Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kabataan, and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers all issued statements on Monday condemning the killing of 72-year-old Echanis, who was stabbed earlier in his rented home in Novaliches, Quezon City, along with a still unidentified neighbor.
The groups issued statements even though the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) had not confirmed that it was in fact Echanis who died, as they found identification cards with photos of a man resembling the victim. But the card bore the name “Manuel Santiago.”
Meanwhile, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and Anakpawis, the group which Echanis was chairman — would stage indignation protests on Tuesday at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) main office in Diliman, Quezon City.
According to Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite, the killing of Echanis, which they believe might have been perpetrated by state forces, showed how the administration could be brutal to its critics.
“While every Filipino is focused on preserving life amidst the raging pandemic, the Duterte regime and its minions are on a frenzy of murder, of state terrorism against the people, against its critics, against agents of change,” Gaite said in a message to reporters.
“The murder of the ill and aging Ka Randall Echanis in his home reveals yet again how utterly cruel and wicked this regime is,” he added.
ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro stressed that Echanis was the victim of red-tagging, which she said only proved how dangerous the practice was for critics of the administration.
“Anakpawis party-list and Ka Randy Echanis himself was red-tagged, along with the other party-lists under the Makabayan bloc and progressive organizations,” Castro stated.
“This proves again that the use of the modus operandi of red-tagging by the military and the police, under the direction of the NTF-ELCAC and terror law, puts in danger any critic, human rights defender, and individual who aims to get social justice,” she added in Filipino.
Earlier, QCPD director Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo urged the public to be cautious in blaming the police force for the death of Echanis (or Santiago), especially without any evidence to present.
Former Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said that Echanis, supposedly a peasant leader, was undergoing medical treatment when police officers raided his house and killed him and his neighbor.
But according to the QCPD, it appears that a certain witness who lives in the same apartment in Barangay Novaliches Proper heard noises coming from Santiago’s room and found the two bodies on the floor.
Police supposedly arrived at the scene only after the apartment owner reported the incident.
“It’s not a nice accusation. I think as much as possible they should have strong evidence to present,” Montejo said in Filipino. “May we request them, for as long as they don’t have evidence, to be cautious in accusing the police.”
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