Peace consultant, peasant activist Echanis killed in Quezon City

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Peace consultant, peasant activist Echanis killed in Quezon City
This photo release shows National Democratic Front of the Philippines Randall Echanis. He was killed wee hours of August 10, in his rented house in Novaliches.
Anakpawis / release

MANILA, Philippines — Peasant groups leader and peace consultant Randall “Randy” Echanis was killed in Quezon City early Monday morning, activist groups said.

In a statement, Anakpawis party-list confirmed the killing of their national chairperson, Echanis, and his unidentified neighbor in a rented house in Novaliches, Quezon City early Monday morning.

He was initially reported have been shot to death but Anakpawis, in an update, said Echanis was stabbed.

Former Rep. Ariel Casilao (Anakpawis party-list) claimed that Echanis “was undergoing a medical treatment, and [was] unarmed when police forces raided his house.” No police report on the incident has been released to media as of this post.

Echanis, 72, was a long-time consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and also sat as deputy secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

He participated in the 2016-2017 peace talks with the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte that tackled, among other issues, a draft Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

CASER contains proposals on agrarian reform, land distribution and development of the agricultural sector for food self-sufficiency. It also moves for the nationalization of utilities and of the mining industry.

Anakpawis also said that the slain peasant leader was instrumental in the crafting of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill that has repeatedly been filed in Congress.

‘Culture of extrajudicial killings’

Casilao said that the killing of Echanis is part of  "a culture of extrajudicial killings with impunity under the Duterte regime."

"This is a declaratory act that national leaders of a legal democratic movement are now targeted to be killed by the Duterte regime," the former lawmaker added.

Casilao did not offer proof that Echanis was killed by state agents but his death is just the latest in a series of disappearances and killings of acitivsts and rights workers.

'Dark forces have struck again'

NDFP legal consultant Edre Olalia meanwhile said that with the“cold-blooded murder” of Echanis, it is “almost conclusory that the ruthless dark forces have struck again.”

“How then can we encourage people to openly and effectively engage in legitimate causes and advocacies for social and economic reforms if you treacherously silence them?” Olalia, who is also the president of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers, said.

He added that with Echanis’ killing, the anti-terrorism law “may just be a formal legal cover if not a surplusage.”

The murder of Echanis came a year and a half after NDFP consultant Randy Malayao was killed while he was sleeping on a bus heading to Cagayan.

It also came came weeks after NDFP peace negotiating panel chair Fidel Agcaoili passed away in Netherlands, where he was exiled. Agcaoili due to pulmonary arterial rupture which caused massive internal bleeding.

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