MANILA (UPDATE)- Exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison and militant groups denounced Monday the killing of peasant leader and peace consultant Randy Echanis.
Echanis, 72, and an unidentified neighbor were found dead in a rented house early Monday, Anakpawis said. The peasant leader was reportedly stabbed to death, according to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.
Sison lauded Echanis as an "outstanding" advocate of "genuine land reform, rural development, and national industrialization."
The peasant leader was a "peaceful social activist" and a "mild-mannered man," the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines said.
"With the murder of Randall and his neighbor, the Duterte gang of butchers has aroused the indignation and just wrath of the peasant masses and the entire Filipino people," Sison said in a statement.
"All social activists have no choice but to intensify in every necessary way their struggle against the tyrant, traitor, butcher, and plunderer Duterte."
Sison said the murder of Randall and his neighbor will have "far-reaching consequences" in the peoples' struggle against the current administration and the "unjust ruling system of big compradors, landlords and corrupt officials who are servile to foreign monopoly capitalism."
KMP condemned the murder of its national deputy secretary-general and called for "national indignation and protest."
"We demand justice for the death of Ka Randy. His killing is made more heartless and cruel amid a pandemic when death and hunger abounds," KMP national chairperson Danilo Ramos said.
"We hold accountable the Duterte regime which has persistently proclaimed and acted against genuine land reform and a just peace," he added.
"Ka Randy has wholly given his life in service of the peasantry and the people... He lived a simple life and amassed nothing but contributions to the people's struggles," said Ramos.
Malacañang urged the public to wait for the results of the police investigation before making any conclusion.
"Let's wait for results of police investigation before pinning death of Echanis on anyone," Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.
Lawyer Edre Olalia, legal consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines Negotiating Panel, described Echanis' killing as an "apparent cold-blooded murder."
"The Terror Law may just be a formal legal cover if not a surplusage," he said. "Is there no more space at all for robust dissent, protest and advocacy if it will rock the boat of the powerful and privileged political and economic rulers?"
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said militant groups would not stop "until justice has been served for Ka Randy Echanis and other victims of political killings."
"This happened even as the new terror law is now in effect. With EJKs (extrajudicial killings) still rampant, a reign of terror would truly ensue with its full implementation," he said.
"This cowardly act is highly condemnable; it shows how low anti-democratic forces can go if only to silence dissent. That an old man would be murdered just for fighting for the Filipino peasant' right to land and other oppressed sectors in our society is clearly emblematic of the state of impunity and tyranny in our country today."