THE AO 35 Task Force on Extra Legal Killings can now formally start investigating the killing of peasant leader Randall Echanis following the release of his cadaver to his family.
This was revealed by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra as demands mount for a formal but impartial probe into the incident which occurred before dawn Monday in Quezon City.
"I understand that the PNP (Philippine National Police) has released the body to the Echanis family upon verifying that the deceased was indeed Randall Echanis. In that case the NBI (Nationsl Bureau of Investigation) need not do another verification, and the DOJ/AO 35 special investigation team may proceed to do its work, " Guevarra said in a message to reporters.
Echanis and his companion Louie Tagapia were killed inside the former's rented home in Quezon City.
Echanis, 72, was a member of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panel on agrarian reforms and the deputy secretary general of militant peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
But the Quezon City Police District has identified the dead body as a “Manuel Santiago,” as shown by the identification card reportedly found on him.
His death took a twist when police allegedly forcibly took away his cadaver from a funeral parlor on Monday night and arrested a paralegal of Anakpawis.
According to Echanis wife Erlinda, Quezon City cops took away the body of her husband at around 11:30 p.m. on Monday.
“.. more than 10 policemen from La Loma, PNP forcibly took the cadaver and will return it to Pink Petal Funeral Homes in La Loma, Quezon City, under their custody,” Erlinda said in a statement.
She said she had positively identified the body of her husband “which bore torture marks, multiple stab and gunshot wounds.”
Anakpawis also reported a member of the paralegal team, Pao Colabres, who was guarding the body of Randall after it was taken away “was illegally nabbed by the Laloma Police and brought to the PNP Station 1.”