The body of a man slain in an apartment in Novaliches, Quezon City Monday has to be subjected to a DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) test or fingerprint to prove its real identity, the police said.
Based on the identification card taken from the crime scene and the statement of the landlady of the apartment where the crime was committed, the victim was identified as Manuel Santiago.
Confusion ensued when Erlinda Echanis identified the slain victim as her husband, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Randy Echanis.
Lt. Johanna Sazon, the Public Information Office (PIO) head of the Quezon City Police District’s (QCPD) in an interview over ANC said the police “needs a proof to prove” the widow’s claim as investigation is still ongoing.
Former Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao, who worked with the victim, also identified the victim as Echanis.
According to the QCPD report, Manuel Santiago and Louie Tagapia, 48, were found dead around 1:35 a.m. inside their rented apartment. Police said that based on their investigation, the victims were stabbed to death.
But the death certificate showed gunshot wounds as “cause of death.” There is still no result of autopsy as of posting.
Echanis’ widow claimed her husband also sustained torture marks and gunshot wounds.
Fight for remains continues
From the crime scene, Nadja de Vera, Echanis’ niece, told Manila Bulletin, the body was brought to Pink Petal Funeral Homes in La Loma, Quezon City by the police, but relatives eventually took custody of the body.
“Kagabi, galing kami sa La Loma [Pink Petal Funeral]. Inayos na namin yung papers, meron na kaming death certificate. Chineck na sya ng investigator from the police, at yun na nga, dadalhin na namin sya sa punerarya na pinili namin [Yesterday, we went to La Loma. We processed his papers, we already have his death certificate and he was checked by a police investigator. Then, we brought him to the funeral of our choice],” de Vera said.
“Ngayon, pagdating namin sa St. Peter’s, may mga dumating na mga pulis at sinasabi nga na dadalhin nila sa La Loma. Tinatanong namin kung anong reason, ang sinasabi nila ay wala daw… kailangan daw ng permit or ng release order [At St. Peter’s, cops arrived and told us they would bring back his body. We asked the reason. They said, it’s because there was no release order yet],” she added.
The body is now at the La Loma funeral home.
De Vera said they had no idea that a release order was needed before taking custody of the Echanis’ body.
“Alam po nila [na kukunin yung body], ang nagcheck po doon sa body, ang para-medico legal doon sa katawan ay investigator from the PNP [They knew that we would get the body since the para-medico legal attending to his body was a police investigator],” she said.
“So kasama po namin sila doon sa pag-aayos namin ng paper. Hindi po namin alam na sinasabi nila na kailangan namin ng release order kahit naman yung kasama namin sila, wala silang sinasabing ganon [We were with them when we were processing his papers. We didn’t know that release papers were needed because they did not tell us anything],” she added.
Echanis, who was a long-time NDPF consultant and a member of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms, was involved in peace talks with the Duterte administration from 2016 to 2017.
He was also the deputy secretary general of militant peasant organization, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and a former Anakpawis nominee in the 2010 elections.