INVESTIGATORS have concluded that peasant leader Randall Echanis and Manuel Santiago are the same person, Quezon City Police District chief Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo said yesterday.
In a press briefing, Montejo sought the understanding of the Echanis family for the delayed turnover of the body to them, citing investigation procedures.
Echanis and his companion, alleged Sputnik gang member Louie Tapia, were found murdered at Echanis’ apartment in Novaliches in Quezon City last Monday. Police said there were five suspects but a probe is still underway to establish their identity and motive.
Police initially brought the body of Echanis to the Pink Petals Memorial Homes in La Loma. Echanis’ family and friends claimed his body and later transferred it to the St. Peter’s Chapels in Quezon Avenue, also in QC.
On Tuesday, QCPD took back custody of the body because, it said, he is Manuel Santiago, based on the identification card that was recovered from the body though the picture on the ID resembles Echanis. Police also ignored the claims of Echanis’ wife, Erlinda, that the body is that of her husband.
His body was brought by the police back to the Pink Petals.
Citing the results of a laboratory test, Montejo said Echanis and Manuel Santiago “are one and the same person.” He said the body of Echanis was due to be turned over to the Echanis family.
Montejo said they cross-matched the fingerprint specimen of Echanis, provided by the family and friends of the peasant leader, with that of the body during post-mortem examination.
“The characteristics were similar, they matched… This means Randall Echanis and Manuel Santiago are one and the same person, we proved that they are the same person,” said Montejo.
Montejo said investigators would be remiss of their duties if they immediately released the body of Echanis, pending the determination of the body’s identity.
“We would be reckless in our investigation. We hope the family (of Echanis) would understand us. We’re just being careful in our investigation,” said Montejo.