MANILA - The killing of peasant leader and peace consultant Randall Echanis was "politically-motivated," Anakpawis said Tuesday as police took his body from a funeral home and a member of the group's paralegal team was arrested for supposed obstruction of justice.
Echanis, 72, had 2 gunshot wounds at the back of his head, multiple stab wounds on the back part of his body and "torture marks," according to former Anakpawis sectoral representative Ariel Casilao.
The peace consultant's family has arranged for an autopsy to be conducted Wednesday, he added.
"This is politically motivated. The affiliations of Mr. Echanis [as] Anakpawis chair, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas deputy secretary general, his involvement in the NDFP as a consultant to the socio-economic reforms, let alone those affiliations under this regime is being criminalized tagged as a communist," Casilao told ANC.
The Quezon City Police District said the victim's family needs to present proof of Echanis' identity such as a "fingerprint or DNA test" after an identification card with the name Manuel Santiago was found in a rented apartment where he was found dead.
Echanis also presented himself as Manuel Santiago to the landlady, according to QCPD public information office chief Lt. Johanna Sazon.
"Under investigation po kasi kaya kailangan po talaga natin ng proof," she told ANC in a separate interview.
Casilao, however, said Echanis' wife positively identified him through a video conference after authorizing a lawyer to the funeral home as a representative because she was a senior citizen and could not go out under quarantine rules.
"There's no business for the police to intervene or stop the family from grieving. If they say the investigation should continue, they can investigate where the family decides where to put the wake. It’s the decision of the family," he said.
Seven men wearing ski masks were seen outside Echanis' apartment on Monday midnight, Casilao said, citing information from a witness.
Echanis rented the apartment as he was undergoing medical treatment, he added.
"They barged in, they forcibly kicked the door that resulted sa pagkatanggal ng pintuan (in the door getting yanked off)," Casilao said.
The other fatality, an unidentified neighbor, heard the commotion and checked Echanis' unit, he added.
"Unfortunately when the person heard commotion, he checked and he was snatched and taken inside and killed also," Casilao said.
A witness heard "loud noise" inside the apartment, according to Sazon, citing the initial police report. There were no details on men barging in Echanis' apartment, she said.
The Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory will conduct an autopsy, she added.