Cops, kin âsnatchâ NDFP consultantâs body
Randall Echanis ’ widow, Erlinda, said more than 10 officers of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Station 1 in La Loma forcibly took his corpse from St. Peter’s Memorial Chapel and returned it to Pink Petals Funeral Home, where it was first brought.
Michael Varcas
Cops, kin ‘snatch’ NDFP consultant’s body
Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - August 12, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Police “snatched” a body believed to be that of slain National Demoratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant and Anakpawis chairman Randall Echanis from his family on Monday night.

Echanis’ widow, Erlinda, said more than 10 officers of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Station 1 in La Loma forcibly took his corpse from St. Peter’s Memorial Chapel and returned it to Pink Petals Funeral Home, where it was first brought.

“ I condemn the persistent harassment of PNP La Loma-QCPD and their brazen act of snatching the remains of my husband,” she said in a statement sent to reporters at past 11 p.m.

Erlinda slammed the policemen for their actions, which took place at past 11 p.m. despite her having already identified the body as that of her husband.

“Why is my husband’s cadaver under investigation in the first place? It should be the perpetrators who should be hunted down and persecuted,” she said.

Erlinda appealed to President Duterte to intervene and hold accountable the people responsible for his murder.

She also asked the QCPD to release her husband’s corpse.

Taken by ‘relatives’

Metro Manila police chief Maj. Gen Debold Sinas said there was no proper coordination on the transfer of the corpse from the Pink Petals Funeral Home.

Sinas said paralegal Jose Paolo Colabres and lawyer Luz Perez claimed the body was that of their relative. They also told employees of the mortuary that they coordinated with the QCPD’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (CIDU) for the corpse’s transfer to another funeral parlor.

“There was no coordination from the CIDU on the release and transfer of the body,” Sinas said in a statement.

Police arrested Colabres at around 1:56 a.m. yesterday while he was guarding Echanis’ corpse. He is facing charges of obstruction of justice.

Echanis, 72, whom police identified as Manuel Santiago based on an identification card found beside him, and his companion, Louie Tagapia, 48, were shot and killed by armed men at his rented apartment in Novaliches on Monday.

Proof of identity?

Lt. Johanna Sazon, QCPD spokesperson, said investigators need to secure fingerprints and DNA samples to prove that Echanis was among those who were killed.

“Kailangan po natin ng proof to prove na siya talaga si Echanis na sinasabi po nila,” she said in an interview over ANC.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said yesterday the Philippine National Police should be made to explain why they had to transfer the body to another funeral parlor.

“Ordinarily it’s the family of the deceased who should determine the funeral arrangements, but here there seems to be a question as to the identity of the deceased,” he said.

Guevarra has ordered the Task Force on Extrajudicial Killing to form a special investigating team to look into Echanis’ death.

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said while there are reports that Erlinda identified the body as that of her husband, there is still a need for a thorough forensic examination “considering questions about the identity of the victim.”

Former Anakpawis party-list representative Ariel Casilao told ANC that police have no reason to interfere in the affairs of Echanis’ family.

“If they say the investigation should continue, they can investigate in every location the family decides to put the wake,” he said.

According to Casilao, Echanis was shot twice in the head and stabbed several times in the body.

Casilao said they have reason to believe the government was involved given Echanis’ background as a peasant leader and involvement in peace negotiations as a consultant of the NDFP.

“Those affiliations under this regime are being criminalized, terrorized and tagged as communists,” he said. – Rhodina Villanueva, Evelyn Macairan, Mayen Jaymalin

RANDALL ECHANIS
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