Longtime peasant leader and activist Randall “Randy” Echanis was killed in the early hours of Monday, 10 August 2020, during a raid by 5 unidentified men on his home in Quezon City. According to the forensic report he had been stabbed multiple times and beaten before he died. He was found dead along with Louie Tagapia with whom he was sharing an apartment while he was receiving medical treatment.
According to Randall Echanis’ wife, Erlinda, her husband’s body had “torture marks, multiple stab wounds, and gunshot wounds. She told reporters that the Philippine National Police (PNP) “forcibly took” her husband’s body from the family’s chosen funeral home and brought it to another funeral home. Police reportedly said they needed a “release order,” a document never before known to be required.
Randall Echanis was a longtime campaigner for agrarian reform and is acknowledged for his work on drafting the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB). Echanis, 72, chaired the left-wing Anakpawis party-list and was a peace consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the political wing of the country’s communist party. He is the 4th NDF political consultant to be killed in recent years, after Sotero Llamas (May 2006), Randy Malayao (January 2019) and Julius Giron (March 2020).
Randall Echanis’ death is just the latest in a series of disappearances and killings of activists and rights workers. According to the human rights group Karapatan, 182 activists and human rights defenders have been killed between July 2016, when President Rodrigo Duterte took power, and June 30, 2020. An additional 136 people involved in activism or grassroots work, especially farmers involved in land rights movements, have been killed during that time period.
This killing took place shortly after the introduction of the new Anti-Terror Law, which has been used to target human rights defenders and political activists, leading some to allege state involvement in the killing.
Just one week after Randall Echanis’ death, fellow human rights defender Zara Alvarez was shot dead by unknown individuals as she walked along Santa Maria Street in Eroreco in Barangay Mandalagan, Bacolod City in the Philippines