August 11, 2008 – 1:17 p.m.
Hundreds of peasants from Laguna, Cavite and Batangas provinces trooped to and banged the gates of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to demand the immediate release of Randall Echanis, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP-National Peasant Movement) national deputy secretary general for external affairs.
Echanis, 60, was abducted by elements of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines on January 28 in Bago City, Negros Occidental. Echanis was then holding a meeting with members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) about the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill.
Echanis was charged with murder for allegedly orchestrating an “internal purge” within the communist movement that resulted in a “mass grave” in Hilongos, Leyte. One of his co-accused in the said case is Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo who was granted bail by the Supreme Court after it deemed the case as weak.
In a statement, Danilo Ramos, KMP secretary general maintained that these are trumped-up charges. “Ka Randy is a symbol for us, educating and organizing us towards the struggle for genuine agrarian reform,” said Ramos.
Ramos also hit the Inter-Agency Legal Assistance Group (IALAG) as the mastermind behind the charges filed against Echanis.
The Free Randal Echanis Movement (FREEDOM) vowed to continue protests until Echanis is released.(Bulatlat.com)