|Randall “Randy” Echanis|
In this time of fearful uncertainty amidst a global pandemic, progressive movements and social movements have been tirelessly working to continue their decades-long service of helping provide much-needed assistance to the millions of Filipinos that are now struggling against COVID-19 and other related issues. It is therefore disappointing that rather than help the people, the current regime has instead prioritized its own political interests. Much time has been wasted by this government on actions that do not concretely address the present needs of our people. The passage of the Anti-Terror Law, the shutdown of ABS-CBN, and the continuous harassment, even murder of activists provoked terror, instead of inspiring hope among our exhausted countrymen.
In this context, the NAGKAISA Labor Coalition expresses alarm over the most recent act of State violence. Yesterday morning, Anakpawis chair Randall “Randy” Echanis was murdered in cold blood, allegedly by police forces, in his home in Novaliches, Quezon City.
Equally deplorable is that Louie Tagapia, his neighbor, was discovered lifeless lying on the floor with both hands tied to his back with a nylon cord. He was probably a witness so the criminals eliminated him.
Nagkaisa cherishes human life and condemns with no uncertain term the highly deplorable acts of the two murders at dawn yesterday.
This brazen act of State terrorism, especially in a period where government resources are stretched to breaking point in a desperate attempt to fight the pandemic reveals where the Duterte regime’s true intentions lie. At a time when medical frontliners are sounding the alarm that our health system is overwhelmed, when the country is facing one of the worst recessions in recent history, the present Philippine government is still committing considerable resources for the intimidation and silencing of activists whose only fault is fighting for the interests of ordinary Filipinos. It is all the more disappointing that these acts of barbarity will now be justified under the pretext of combating terrorism, especially with the passage of a draconian terrorism law.
As if to rub salt on the deep wound of the bereaved family, the remains of Echanis were forcibly taken by the police from them, disrespecting the dead and compounding the human rights violations already committed on the murdered peasant leader, and inflicting indescribable pain to his kin.
Nagkaisa is also gravely concerned by the arrest of Paolo Colabres, a paralegal officer, for assisting the Echanis family in claiming the body of the slain leader.
Reportedly charged with “obstruction of justice,” his arrest raises the question: is this the beginning of a new round of crackdowns on political dissent? How inhuman could one get, depriving the family, friends and followers of the slain leader of the opportunity to reunite with him--at least with his remains--one last time?
NAGKAISA stands in solidarity with the family, friends, colleagues and followers of Randy Echanis, as well as the movements that he is part of. It is clear that in a country where the government’s priorities are misplaced and compassion is missing, the people must once again take it upon themselves to make things right. We demand an immediate and impartial investigation on the murder of Echanis. We call on the government to hold those responsible for the killing accountable.
Nagkaisa Press Statement on the killing of Anakpawis, KMP leader
August 11, 2020