CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – A Mindanao-based peace group condemned the Quezon City police for “snatching” the body of murdered peasant leader Randall Echanis from his grieving family.
Sowing the Seeds of Peace’s main convenor Bishop Felixberto Calang said the act was a violation of human dignity, in a statement released Thursday. Aug. 13.
The Commission on Human Rights earlier reacted and said the same.
Echanis was killed inside his rented apartment in Quezon City last Aug. 9. His cadaver was taken away – without the consent of his family – at a funeral home, hours after his murder.
“The killing of Echanis given his credentials as a known consultant to the peace process, an erstwhile partylist nominee for farmers and workers, and leader of the Left deserves to be looked into as a political assassination, not just another case of extrajudicial killing,” noted Calang, who’s also a local official of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente in this city.
Sowing the Seeds of Peace supported calls for an independent investigation into the “gruesome attack”, saying lies about the killing as motivated by a personal grudge are “plain incredible.” It also noted that doubts cast on the identity of the corpse despite positive identification by the family “are preposterous”.
“The use of aliases and other protection mechanisms have been recognized by the government through the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees,” said Calang.
The group also found it surprising that law enforcers have applied a stringent forensic processing on the death of Echanis but not in solving the more than 10,000 cases of extrajudicial killings of so-called drug offenders.
Calang lamented the “ill-scripted attempt” to belittle the significance of Echanis’ life by tarnishing him in death. He noted that a look at Echanis’ portfolio will show that he has spent his whole life championing the cause of poor farmers and workers and pushing for meaningful reforms that will transform the inequalities in the country’s agrarian system in the countryside.
“His death further rips into pieces the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. It is also a loss to our hoped-for signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms of which Echanis was one of the principal architects,” Calang said. (Jigger J. Jerusalem/davaotoday.com)
Sowing the Seeds of Peace has worked with the government and nongovernment entities in the conduct of the peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front and the government before Pres. Rodrigo Duterte announced he was canceling it for good last year. (davaotoday.com)