Randall Echanis, long-time National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant, was killed early Monday morning, August 10, in Novaliches, Quezon City.
His peasant organization colleagues said Echanis’ murder may be by state forces.
He was killed with a still unidentified neighbor, Anakpawis Party also reported.
Echanis died of multiple stab wounds on his back based on an early police report, his colleagues told Kodao. His remains will be autopsied, they added.
Former Anakpawis Congressman Ariel Casilao said that Echanis “was undergoing medical treatment, and was unarmed, when suspected state forces raided his house.”
Echanis actively participated in peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) since 2002 and served as vice-chairperson of the NDFP’s Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms.
He was NDFP’s leading consultant on agrarian reform and played a key role in the drafting of documents on agrarian reform and rural development and the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Reforms.
The victim, 72 years old, was also the incumbent deputy secretary general of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.
As peasant leader, Echanis spearheaded nationwide campaigns for genuine agrarian reform, including free land distribution to Filipino farmers. He was instrumental in crafting the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) repeatedly filed in Congress since its first filing in 2007.
A former political detainee, Echanis was arrested three times during the Marcos, Aquino, and Arroyo regimes. He became Anakpawis Party’s third nominee after his latest release from jail in 2010.
NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison condemned the murders, saying Department of Interior and Local Government secretary Eduardo Año may know about the killings.
“It is widely known that the DILG secretary Año has been boasting to his staff and other people that he has mapped out the locations of all social activists through the local governments and neighborhoods and that he can wipe them out the social activists anytime,” Sison said.
“This boasting of Año is taken seriously by all the social activists that he threatens to kill,” he added.
Sison said Echanis’ murder will have far reaching consequences as it arouses the indignation and just wrath of the peasant masses and the entire Filipino people.
“All social activists have no choice but to intensify in every necessary way their struggle against the tyrant, traitor, butcher and plunderer Duterte,” he said.
NDFP Negotiating Panel legal consultant Edre Olalia for his part said “ruthless dark forces have struck again” with Echanis’ murder.
“Are we totally and almost irretrievably shutting the doors and windows of a potential peaceful resolution of the perennial ills of society by sowing terror and trepidation among those who present alternative solutions? Where will the people go thence for their legal struggles if they are not welcome?” Olalia asked.
Echanis is the third NDFP peace consultant killed after President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled peace negotiations in June 2017.
Felix Randy Malayao, NDFP peace consultant for Cagayan Valley, was killed in his sleep inside a bus in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya in January 2019.
Julius Giron, designated as National Consultant Number 1 due to his seniority in the Communist Party of the Philippines, was also brutally killed in a combined police and military raid in Baguio City last March 13.
Giron was the holder of a Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees Document of Identification (DI) number 978410 under the name of Arnold Cruz.
All three were killed in the early hours of the morning.
They also were born and raised in Northern Luzon: Echanis in the Ilocos Region, Malayao in Cagayan Valley and Giron in the Cordilerras.
“How bad can it get? It is almost conclusory that the ruthless dark forces have struck again. How then can we encourage people to openly and effectively engage in legitimate causes and advocacies for social and economic reforms if you treacherously silence them?” Olalia further asked. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)