Makabayan reps seek House inquiry into Echanis killing

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Makabayan reps seek House inquiry into Echanis killing
Family, activist colleagues and supports marched to Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City to take slain peasant activist Randall Echanis to his resting place.
Anakpawis / release

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers of the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives sought a legislative inquiry into the killing of peasant activist and peace consultant Randall Echanis.

Six lawmakers on Monday filed Resolution No. 1131 calling on the House’s Committee on Human Rights to conduct a legislative probe into the Echanis case.

Echanis and his neighbor, Louie Tagapia, were killed in the former's rented apartment in Quezon City in the early morning of August 10. The slain peasant activist was laid to rest in Marikina City earlier Monday.

The lawmakers said: “Echanis’ brutal murder was executed amid a culture of impunity under the administrative of President [Rodrigo] Duterte who has himself made repeated remarks against protesters and critics, encouraging ‘shoot to kill’ orders and other threats to be carried out by state forces.”

They also noted that the Echanis' murder — he was 71 and was undergoing medical treatment when he was killed —“is unjustifiable and is a blatant attack on groups advocating peasant rights and genuine agrarian reform and all advocates for just peace and genuine social and economic reforms.”

The murder of Echanis and Tagapia happened while Quezon City, like the rest of Metro Manila, is under modified enhanced community quarantine. The stricter quarantine classification means quarantine checkpoints and increased police presence are standard.

He was also the second peace consultant killed under the Duterte administration, with the first case—the murder of Randy Malayao who was shot while sleeping in a provincial bus—still unresolved more than a year later.

RELATED: Citing past probes, Karapatan doubts task force investigation into Echanis killing

“It is imperative for members of Congress, as representatives of our people to defend the rights of our people and check on excesses and violations committed against them,” they said.

The opposition lawmakers stressed: “Congress is duty-bound to conduct investigations to be able to uphold justice and protect the people against abuses especially during extraordinary times such as the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The following lawmakers signed the resolution: Reps. Eufemi Cullamat, Carlos Isagani Zarate and Ferdinand Gaite of Bayan Muna party-list; Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Party), Rep. France Castro (ACT Teachers party-list) and Rep. Sarah Elago (Kabataan party-list).

It is unlikely that the House of Representatives, which is dominated by administration allies, will heed the call for hearings to be held.

The Department of Justice’s Administrative Order 35 Task Force, the panel probing politically-motivated killings, is currently conducting  an investigation into the case. — with report from News5/Ria Fernandez



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