By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The legal counsel for the family of the slain peace consultant said the Philippine National Police has no power to seize the body of Randall Echanis.
Jobert Pahilga, lawyer of the Echanis family said “there is no law that gives the power to the police to seize the body of a deceased even assuming that that they will do it for purposes of criminal investigation.”
The La Loma Police forcibly took the remains of Echanis from his family last night. The police asserted that there is no order yet to release the body. They also want to conduct a DNA test to prove the identity of Echanis because the identification card allegedly found in the crime scene bears a different name.
Erlinda Lacaba-Echani demands the release of her husband’s remains as has positively identified her husband’s body yesterday morning.
According to Pahilga, under Article 306 of the Civil Code, “the duty and the right to make arrangements for the funeral of a relative shall be in accordance with the order established for support. Under the Family Code, the order shall first come from the spouse.”
He added that Article 309 also provides that “any person who shows disrespect to the dead, or wrongfully interferes with a funeral shall be liable to the family of the deceased for damages, material and moral.”
“This adds insult to our injury. It is both inhuman and unjust for the remains of my husband to be held under police custody and deprive us of having a proper and private mourning,” Erlinda said in a statement.
Pahilga said there is something sinister in the sudden “snatching” of Echanis’ remains from the family. He said an autopsy was supposed to be conducted as the family has already communicated with known forensic expert, Dr. Raquel Fortun.
“There is dubious legal basis for this absurd and outrageous move. It is inhuman and abhorrent to morals and our culture. It is getting curiouser and curiouser,” said Edre Olalia, National Democratic Front of the Philippines legal consultant and National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers president.
Based on initial reports, Echanis died from gunshot wounds and multiple stab wounds. His body also bore torture marks.
The Public Interest Law Center (PILC) also lambasted the police, saying that they should be putting their efforts in going after the perpetrators of the crime.
“The family of Randall are being subjected to ‘mental and emotional torture,” the group said in a statement.
The PILC also calls for an urgent, impartial, and independent investigation into the extra-judicial killings of Echanis and Louie Tagapia, the neighbor who was also found dead in the area of the incident.
“His murder yesterday, with suspicious badges of cover-up and impunity, cannot go by the way of Randy Malayao’s, a fellow peace consultant who was shot in the head while sleeping on a bus in 2019,” the group said.