Agricultural workers commemorated the third death anniversary of murdered National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Randall Echanis, saying government policies that led to his assassination are still in place.
The Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) led a protest rally at the Department of Justice in Manila on Thursday, August 10, demanding justice for the peasant leader who died of 40 multiple stab wounds.
Echanis was deputy secretary general of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), president of Anakpawis Party, and vice chairperson of the NDFP’s Reciprocal Committee on Social and Economic Reforms when he died.
UMA said it condemns the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government for maintaining former President Rodrigo Duterte’s violent counter-insurgency programs that resulted in Echanis’ assassination.
“But this US-endorsed counter-insurgency measure, one that depoliticized national liberation as mere ‘terrorism,’ was not the sole policy to blame. By then, Executive Order 70 (EO70) or the ‘all-of-nation approach’ to end the civil war was already entrenched, and gaining more and more notoriety for targeting peasant leaders,” UMA said in a statement.
More farmers fall victims to repression
The group added that three years after Echanis’ death, government’s Memorandum Order 32 (MO32) covering Negros, Samar, and Bicol had also already normalized the massacre of organized farmers and agri-workers such as the Negros 14.
“[A]nd the fake war on drugs had made extra-judicial killings, especially of the urban poor, an everyday occasion and a household term,” UMA said.
“Comrade Randy was not the first civilian to be victimized by these fascist policies, and he was definitely not the last,”UMA acting chairperson Ariel Casilao said.
“Duterte’s terrorist legacy is being perpetrated by Marcos by his implementation of the ‘Terror Law’, EO70, MO32, and even the fake war against illegal drugs,” Casilao added.
The former Anakpawis represented further said the same policies that killed Echanis remain at work in, among others, the ongoing militarization of Tuy, Batangas; the proscription of four Cordillera activists and three more in Southern Tagalog into the terror list; red-tagging as a form of union-busting in Sta. Maria, Isabela; as well as in the aerial bombings of civilian communities in Abra.
“Worse, such human rights violations kept escalating into enforced disappearances and murders. Bazoo de Jesus and Dexter Capuyan, indigenous people’s rights advocates, had yet to surface 100 days since their abduction. Billy Fausto, an organized sugar worker, was massacred along with his wife Emelda and two children in Himamaylan, Negros Occidental last June,” UMA complained.
The group also pointed out that the number of political prisoners had ballooned to 778, 49 of them arrested in the past 12 months alone.
“The peasant death toll under the present regime now reached 58. Drug-related killings since Marcos, Jr. took power totaled to 336, even while he continued to refuse holding his predecessor accountable for 13,000 or so,” UMA revealed.
The agricultural workers also expressed fears that the proposed allotment of P10 billion for confidential and intelligence funds in the government’s 2024 national budget could only aggravate the implementation of EO70, MO32, and the Terror Law.
“[T]hese statistics could only grow. The impunity with which Ka Randy was killed certainly remained intact, and this was so to keep the peasantry landless and the working class precarious,” UMA said.
“Marcos and Duterte’s fascism are not without reason. They are protecting the big landlords and the compradors, and especially the interests of the imperialists,” Casilao added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)