Makabayan bloc lawmakers on Friday demanded the release from military custody of suspected rebel Amanda Echanis and her month-old child, saying that the firearms, ammunition and explosives found in her house were apparently planted.
“We have strong suspicion that these weapons were planted to implicate her. We have seen this modus operandi before as in the raids of activist headquarters in Negros and in Tondo, where guns were dubiously found in publicly known offices of progressive organizations,” Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said.
Echanis, daughter of slain Anakpawis chairman Randall Echanis, was arrested in Baggao, Cagayan and charged with illegal possesion of firearms, ammunition and explosives.
“It can be recalled that Amanda Echanis was one of those red-tagged during the Senate hearing on red-tagging. Ivy Corpin, one of NTF-ELCAC’s so-called witnesses, named Amanda Echanis without giving any concrete proof of her accusations,” noted Gaite.
He added: “What happened to Amanda is a strong case that proves red-tagging leads to harassment, arrest, and detention under trumped-up charges.”
House Asst. Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro also condemned the alleged illegal arrest and detention of Echanis and her newborn son.
“We strongly condemn the illegal arrest and detention of Amanda Echanis wherein firearms, ammunition, and explosives were planted in the house of her housemate to justify her arrest by elements of military and police which is exactly what happened to Reina Mae Nasino who at that time was one-month pregnant, an old tactic of state security forces for political persecution,” Rep. Castro said.
Meanwhile, House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate supported the proposal of Sen. Panfilo Lacson to make red-tagging a criminal offense.
“I agree with Senator Lacson in criminalizing red-tagging, in particular for government officials and employees who use government funds and resources to vilify and attack progressives, artists, critics of the administration, the political opposition and even ordinary people just for espousing their beliefs,” said the Davao-based solon.
“Government funds and resources should be used to improve the lives of the people and not to attack them with premeditated disinformation schemes, malicious innuendos,” said Zarate.
He added: “That is why we moved to defund the NTF-ELCAC and re-align the use of its nearly P20 billion budget to rebuild the lives devastated by the calamities and pandemic.”