Senator seeks probe into Echanis slay, hits ‘tug of war’ between family, cops
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday slammed what she called an “inexplicable tug of war” over the body of slain National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Randall “Randy” Echanis between the police and his family.
Hontiveros, who “strongly” condemned the killing of Echanis, also backed a “full and independent” investigation into the crime in order to “pinpoint accountability.”
In an interview over CNN Philippines, the senator questioned the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) handling of Echanis’ case.
“Many are asking, is this state-sponsored terrorism? Because it is not yet clear, 100 percent, who committed this terrible crime,” Hontiveros said.
“But what is just at the outset is inexplicable is the way precisely the PNP has handled this case, that they took the body, 100 percent away from the family, who had already 100 positively identified the body as that of Ka Randy,” she added.
Echanis’ wife, Erlinda earlier said that more than 10 officers of the QCPD La Loma Police Station took the body of her husband from a funeral parlor where she had the cadaver transferred.
She added she positively identified the body, which bore torture marks, multiple stab wounds and gunshot wounds.
“Yun naman ang normal procedure diba, na yung next of kin ang naga-identify?” Hontiveros went on.
(Isn’t that the normal procedure? That the next of kin will identify the body?)
The lawmaker was also puzzled as to why a paralegal “who was simply watching over the body of Ka Randall at the funeral parlor” was arrested by authorities.
“Why the forcible transfer to another funeral parlor? And I heard about another case related to this inexplicable tug of war between the authorities and the bereaved family,” Hontiveros also said.
Echanis’ body was first brought to the Pink Petals Funeral Homes in La Loma, Quezon City. Erlinda later had the body transferred to St. Peter’s Memorial along Quezon Avenue before it was “forcibly taken” by police officers.
But authorities said they returned the body to the Pink Petals Funeral Homes for investigation, claiming the body was “illegally” transferred. Anakpawis party-list later denied the allegation, saying they coordinated with the police to move the body.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, meanwhile, said no lapses have so far been found on the part of police investigators who are handling the case of the slain activist and peasant leader.
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