Lawyer scores police for harassing Amanda Echanis
MANILA, Philippines — The lawyer of detained leftist activist Amanda Echanis scored the police on Sunday after an unidentified officer and a female custodian tried to “interview” Echanis in the absence of her lawyer.
Echanis’ lawyer Luz Perez told the Inquirer that the officer and the custodian tried to speak with Echanis after the lawyer left the Philippine National Police’s Camp Marcelo Adduro headquarters in Tuguegarao City, where she has been detained since her arrest on Dec. 2.
Perez said the officer, who was a colonel, and the custodian did not say why they wanted to talk to Echanis, but that would have been a violation of her Miranda rights.
The Miranda doctrine, adapted from US jurisprudence, provides that no person can be forced to be a witness against himself so, upon arrest, he should be warned that he has the right to remain silent and have his lawyer present at any questioning because everything he says can be used against him.
Echanis, 32, daughter of slain activist Randall Echanis, a leader of the so-called national democratic movement, was arrested on Wednesday in Barangay Carupian in Baggao town after police supposedly found firearms and explosives inside her house.
But Perez argued that the arrest was illegal. It took the lawmen five hours after they had already searched the house to present a warrant, enough time to plant evidence, the lawyer said.
Disputing Perez’s claim, Gen. Debold Sinas, the PNP chief, said the guns found could not have been planted because the weapons were new and high-caliber ones that police would not just throw away as evidence. It was the same argument he used last year in justifying the arrest of another leftist activist, Reina Mae Nasino, who gave birth in detention. The baby, however, died three months later.
With month-old son
He also claimed that it was Echanis’ decision to bring along her month-old son, Randall Emmanuel, and not the police, but she was assisted by social workers from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Perez said Randall was in relatively stable condition, despite suffering sleepless fits during their first days in detention. Mother and son have since been transferred to a dormitory-type facility, the lawyer added.
Perez said they would contest the legality of the arrest.
The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) deplored the government’s “misplaced effort” to intensify attacks against leftist activists and “the wrongful accusation” against Echanis.
“This just months after her father’s death is telling of [President] Duterte’s witch hunt on human rights defenders and his staunch critics,” the NUSP said in a statement.
Randall Echanis, 72, chair of Anakpawis and deputy secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, was killed in a botched ‘burglary’ at his rented house in Quezon City on Aug. 10.
“This aggression toward activists and progressive groups is his admission of his failure as a President—why would someone secure of how they lead be afraid of criticism?” the group added.
—With a report from Meg Adonis
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