They’re killing activists in the PHL: Malaya Movement

Randall ‘Ka Randy’ Echanis; Zara Alvarez

A human rights group in the U.S. is condemning the killing of two grassroots organizers. Randall “Ka Randy” Echanis, National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant, was tortured before he was stabbed to death on August 10. Zara Alvarez, a human rights worker from KARAPATAN-Negros Island, was assassinated a week later.

“The Malaya Movement is sounding the alarm on what we see as a (Rodrigo) Duterte regime assassination policy of activist leaders and progressive organizations. Duterte’s incessant attacks on civil liberties, press freedom, and the practice of critical dissent has left democracy in the Philippines in critical condition,” the group said in a statement.

Malacanang has denied “state forces” are behind the killing of activists. Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the government is investigating.

According to the organization, Echanis died in his Quezon City home. His wife Erlinda identified his body earlier that day, noticing signs of torture as well as multiple gunshot and stabbing wounds.

“Ka Randy has made significant contributions in advancing agrarian reform, human rights, and peace-making. As a longtime advocate for land reform and the rights of peasant farmers, he was among those who drafted the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB). As the political consultant of the NDFP, he was active in their peace-making negotiations with the Philippine government, and participated in the joint working committee that produced the CASER or Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms, which aimed to address the roots of the armed conflict that has persisted for the past 50 years. 

“Ka Randy lived a life committed to justice and peace, and for this he was the target of incessant persecution by authoritarian heads of state and was detained as a political prisoner under three previous administrations. We grieve with Ka Randy’s family during this time still so close to his death, yet we lift him up as a model of sincere love for the Filipino people by tirelessly advocating and fighting for the issues of the poorest and most dispossessed in the face of the government’s continued persecution.”

Zara Alvarez

Zara was gunned down and killed on her way home in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.

A 39-year-old single parent and former political prisoner, Zara has been a tireless advocate for the rights of the most oppressed for many years, according to Malaya Movement.  “She was among the 600 names listed in a failed red-tagging scheme of the Duterte regime back in 2018, and had been receiving death threats since the beginning of 2019. Zara was most recently a research and advocacy officer for the Negros Island Health Integrated Program and a paralegal for KARAPATAN-Negros Island. She is the 13th human rights worker murdered under Duterte.”

Newspaper reports in the Philippines say she was killed – shot six times — on the day Ka Randy was laid to rest. 

The Commission on Human Rights reports that at least 134 Human Rights Defenders have been killed since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016. A similar criticism was also asserted in a recent report from the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights of the UN citing Duterte’s role in creating an environment that encourages violence and ensures impunity. While state security forces and mercenaries hold the gun, it is Duterte who pulls the trigger, says the statement from the Malaya Movement.

© The FilAm 2020

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