'Handiwork of state forces': Groups denounce killing of Anakpawis head Randy Echanis

Sectoral groups on Monday, August 10, condemned the killing of longtime peasant leader and activist Randall "Randy" Echanis inside his home in Quezon City.

The 72-year-old Anakpawis chairperson and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) deputy secretary general was "undergoing a medical treatment and unarmed when police forces raided his house" according to former Anakpawis representative Ariel Casilao.

In a statement, KMP said they "have all reasons to believe that this is the handiwork of state forces and mercenaries of the Duterte government."

"We demand justice for the death of Ka Randy, his killing is made more heartless and cruel amid a pandemic when death and hunger abound," KMP national chairperson Danilo Ramos said.

A longtime activist, Echanis helped organize farmers' groups for agrarian reform. He also served as a political consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

"We hold accountable the Duterte regime which has persistently proclaimed and acted against genuine land reform and a just peace," Ramos added.

String of killings

Echanis is the latest activist killed under the Duterte administration. In April, Bayan Muna Iloilo coordinator Jory Porquia was killed inside his home. (READ: They shot my Tatay 9 times)

At least 134 human rights defenders have been killed since 2016, according to a report by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

The report, the result of a national inquiry, also said that Duterte made human rights work in the Philippines deadly through his dangerous pronouncements since 2016. (READ: Duterte created 'dangerous fiction' vs rights defenders – CHR report)

The President "created a dangerous fiction that it is legitimate to hunt down and commit atrocities against HRDs because they are enemies of the State," the commission said.

Cycle of violence

The Kilusang Mayo Uno said Echanis' killing is a "clear example of impunity even in the midst of the pandemic."

The Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) shared the same view, accusing the government of "deliberately" attacking and killing "a peace and justice advocate and his neighbor."

Fernando Hicap, national chairperson of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), called Echanis a "genuine land reform advocate."

"Imprisoned during 3 past administrations, killed under Duterte," ended Hicap. "This should raise alarm for all the democratic and freedom-loving Filipinos to denounce and expose Duterte's murderous regime, and ultimately end his reign."

Hicap also said he believes that "state forces are the only party who are capable and have strong motive for his killing." – Rappler.com

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.

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