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Team to probe Echanis killing

Alvin Murcia

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Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has directed the formation of a special investigating team to look into the killing of National Democratic Front peace consultant and peasant leader Randall Echanis.

“Upon the assumption that the subject was indeed peasant leader Echanis, I have directed the Administrative Order (AO) 35 Task Force on EJK (extrajudicial killing) to form a special investigating team to look into the incident,” Guevarra said.

However, in view of the emerging confusion as to the identity of the subject, he said, “We shall await confirmation by the family of the deceased that the subject was indeed peasant leader Echanis.”

The Justice chief said it is necessary to confirm the identity of the victim before the Task Force on EJK begins its investigation of the incident.

AO 35 covers the summary killings of persons on account of their advocacies, such as labor and peasant leaders, but not common crimes involving ordinary persons.

DoJ Undersecretary Markk Perete said the goal of the task force is to prosecute politically motivated killings.

“In the course of this work and in gathering reports from the ground, the Secretariat has identified regional hotspots. It has also been studying the complexion of the cases per region,” Parete said.

“In time, we hope to publish a ‘heat map’ and an analysis of the cases per region to form part of the AO 35 webpage,” he added.

“Considering questions about the identity of the victim, a thorough forensic examination may be necessary for the purpose. We leave it to experts to complete this identification. That said, the AO 35 Secretariat is nevertheless preparing to investigate and determine the possible inclusion of the case under our mechanism,” he added.

Echanis, 72, a peasant activist, and an unidentified neighbor were reportedly killed in a rented house in Novaliches, Quezon City on Monday.

Ariel Casilao, former Anakpawis partylist representative, said Echanis was undergoing medical treatment and unarmed when the police raided his house.

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