By Macel Ingles
OSLO, Norway—A Norwegian peace advocate and International Committee member of the Red Party in Norway said the slay of a National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant to the peace talks has eroded the international community´s trust in President Rodrigo Duterte’s role to achieve peace.
“Duterte´s time is vanishing. His credibility to be part and address political solutions over the big conflict in the Philippines has crumbled,” Arnljøt Ask of Norway’s Red Party said in an online protest rally and tribute to the late peasant leader and social activist Randall Echanis last Sunday, August 10.
“I can see that the fascist Duterte regime gave priority to murder this man instead of taking him to prison like Marcos and other presidents we encountered to earlier, This consistent, honest and persuading, social activist, peasant leader and peace advocate gathered support in broad circles, a killer like Duterte could not put up with that, he therefore hoped to silence him,” Ask added.
Ask revealed he only met Echanis once at a peace talk meeting in Oslo but he said he remembered his “friendly” and “determined” face.
Norway serves as the third party facilitator to the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP,
Most of the formal rounds of peace negotiations were held in Oslo.
Ask, a founding member of the Filipino Resource Center in this city, joined other fellow Philippine solidarity activists in paying tribute to Echanis and condemning his murder under the Duterte regime.
“For the solidarity movement in Norway, Ka Randall´s passing away through this terrorist act will enforce our strength, will force our efforts to strengthen our work to contribute to the fulfillment of the task Ka Randall dedicated his life to, so also supporters of justice and real democracy will act all over,” Ask added.
Aside from Ask, other international solidarity leaders attended the online event including Dutch youth activist Tom de Koning of the Revolutionaire Enheid in the Netherlands who sent his condolences to Echanis´comrades and family in the Philippines and paid tribute to his contribution to the people´s struggle.
“With comrade Randy in our hearts and minds, we will remember his genuine commitment to the Filipino people, the revolution and his special contribution to the struggle for genuine agrarian reform. We will remember Ka Randy like so many other comrades who had been in prison several times and he was never afraid to make the sacrifices in order to defend the people,s democratic revolution,” Koning told fellow activists and peace advocates in the online protest.
Italian activist Alessio Arena of the Fronte Populare and the International League of People´s Struggle (ILPS) in Italy also condemned Echanis´ killing.
“I would like to join in condemning the barbaric murder of comrade Randy Echanis and to offer my condolences to his family, comrades and friends. The murder of Ka Randy extends the blood trail drawn in recent months by the massacre of leaders and representatives of the mass movement in Philippines. The blood of Ka Randy and other martyrs/victims fall on the criminal Duterte regime and the imperialists of which it is a servant to,” Arena said in the online tribute.
Arena met Echanis at the peace talks meetings held in Rome where he came to hear him speak about his work on genuine agrarian reform issues and mass work in the Philippines.
From Luxembourg, Julie Smit of the People´s Coalition for Food Security exhorted solidarity organizations and comrades in Europe to support the Filipino people in their struggle for peace and justice in the Philippines.
“We need to turn outrage, this grief we have, into action. It is all we can do to continue the work of Ka Randy, to continue to fight, to support the Filipino people and to fight for justice so that we can arrive at the rainbow´s end,” Smits said.
“These people who have given their lives, they earn our deepest respect. I think it is our responsibility who are living to continue doing what we can to expose, the violent repression that is pretty escalating now under the Duterte administration,” she added.
Smits worked for 20 years in the Philippines for a Luxembourg NGO working on peasant issues and joined the solidarity movement for the Philippines after her stint in the country.
NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison and interim head of the NDFP Negotiating Panel Julie De Lima also sent a video message in the online tribute condemning Echanis killing and vowing to obtain justice for his death.
Besides messages of condolences and support from the international solidarity organizations from various countries in Europe, the online protest was also joined by several Filipino organizations and peace advocates including messages from Zaria Galiano of International Migrant Alliance (IMA), trade unions and human rights activist from the UK, Rommel Abellar, Filipino scholar in Universite Catholique Louvain, Phoebe Zoe Maria Sanchez, Seyra Rico of AnakBayan Europe, Migrante Europe, Ugnayang ng mga Pilipino sa Belgium (UPB), and the Filipino Resource Center (FRC) in Norway.
The online tribute also featured videos of the late peace advocate´s life and struggle with the Filipino peasant organizations and his role in the peace advocacy in Europe as senior consultant to the NDFP´s Negotiating Panel in the peace talks.
His favorite song, Moon River, as revealed by his wife Linda Lacaba, was also played in the tribute with not a few tears shed in his memory by those who attended the event.
The participants also lit candles and observed two minutes of silence to honor Echanis. #