A PEASANT leader who served as consultant of the National Democratic of the Philippines in the terminated peace process with the government was murdered in his house in Quezon City early yesterday morning.
Communist party founding chairman Jose Maria Sison blamed the government for the death of Anakpawis chairman and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pililipinas deputy secretary general Randal Echanis.
Echanis, 71, and a male companion were found stabbed to death in an apartment in Barangay Novaliches Proper.
Investigators did not immediately confirm if one of the dead was Echanis.
Quezon City Police District spokeswoman Lt. Johanna Sazon said the two were identified through identification cards found in their possession as Louie Tapia, 48, who had a Sputnik Gang tattoo, and Manuel Santiago.
Asked if Santiago and Echanis were the same person, Sazon said a DNA would have to be conducted to confirm that.
Sazon said QCPD director Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo has ordered a thorough investigation “to establish the motive on the killing of the victims.”
But Anakpawis and another leftist group, Bayan Muna, confirmed that one of the victims was Echnanis. The Netherlands-based Sison, the chief political consultant of the NDFP, also confirmed the death of Echanis.
Sison singled out Interior Secretary Ano who he said “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.”
“This boasting of Ano is taken seriously by all the social activists that he threatens to kill,” said Sison.
Ano could not be immediately reached for comment Former Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said “our anger is beyond words.” He said civil society, human rights advocates and freedom fighters “must totally denounce this criminal act.”
In a statement, Bayan Muna party list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate denounced the killing of Echanis, calling it a “cowardly act.” He vowed the group will not stop until justice is served.
Echanis is a long-time consultant of the NDFP and a member of the NDFP Reciprocal
Working Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms. He has actively participated in peace talks with the government.
Echanis had been arrested and detained three times since the Marcos dictatorship. Despite this, he continued advancing the rights of peasants.
In a statement, Sison said: “In the strongest terms, I condemn the murder of Randall Echanis and his neighbor who were unarmed.” He described Echanis as a “peaceful social activist.”
“He was a mild-mannered man of 71 years. He had a consistent modest personality with a high level of education and intellect. He had long dedicated himself to his social advocacy and had made tremendous sacrifices for many decades,” said Sison.