An organization of lawyers on Tuesday, Aug. 11, expressed outrage against the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) for supposedly seizing the remains of slain National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Randy Echanis from his family.
“That is cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment defined as torture by the law. There is certainly no legal or moral justification for the indignity inflicted on the grieving family and friends of Mr. Echanis,” Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) chairman and human rights lawyer Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno said in a statement.
With this, Diokno demanded that the Philippine National Police (PNP) “immediately return the body of Mr. Echanis to his family” and “administratively discipline its members and officers responsible for the seizure.”
Aside from the remains, Diokno said the PNP should also “release from custody the paralegal whom they arrested without a warrant when the PNP seized Mr. Echanis’ remains.”
The 72-year-old NDFP peace consultant was killed along with another person identified as Louie Tagapia, 48, inside their rented home in Barangay Nova Proper in Novaliches, Quezon City last Monday, Aug. 10.
However, Erlinda, the wife of Echanis, has already issued a statement accusing QCPD’s La Lima Police station of taking the body from the funeral parlor.
“The role of the police is to enforce the law, not break it. Their job is to investigate killings, not whitewash them. Mr. Echanis and Mr. Tagapia deserve justice. The first step towards that is uncovering the truth. The brazen misconduct of the Quezon City Police obscures that truth,” declared Diokno.
Diokno said FLAG condemns the extrajudicial killing of Echanis and Tagapia who were “peacefully inside a private dwelling and were not engaged in any acts that would even remotely justify the use of armed force by the authorities, their agents, or cohorts.”
With this, the lawyer urged Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to order the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a probe into the killing.
Once Guevarra issued the directive, Diokno said the PNP must turnover its investigation to the NBI and fully cooperate with the bureau’s investigation.
Diokno also asked that the government “allow an independent forensic pathologist chosen by the families of Mr. Echanis and Mr. Tagapia to immediately conduct autopsies of their remains.”