Farmers demand the immediate and unconditional release of activist and peasant organizer Amanda Echanis

“Red-tagging is a vicious cycle as it becomes a prelude to illegal arrests and trumped-up charges, to which, the arrests themselves are then further utilized to give credence to red-tagging. Dapat matigil ang red-tagging at dapat may managot dito,” says KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos, as peasant organizations condemn the ongoing activist crackdown in Cagayan Valley that led to the arrest of peasant organizer Amanda Lacaba-Echanis in Baggao town yesterday morning.

Ramos added: “This roundabout of political persecution through planting of evidence – firearms, ammo, and grenades, etc, and filing of fabricated non-bailable criminal charges must stop. We demand the government to cease red-tagging of legitimate peoples’ organizations, civilians and individuals advocating social reforms.”

“Napakarami nang magsasaka na ni red tag ang illegal na inaresto, kinasuhan ng mga gawa gawang kaso at ikinulong. Red-tagged individuals and activists are subjected to constant surveillance, vilification, and harassment.

Amanda Echanis, 32, the daughter of slain NDFP consultant and former Anakpawis chairperson Randall Echanis was arrested on December 2 in Cagayan after the AFP and PNP launched a crackdown against peasant organizations in Cagayan Valley region, following a Senate Hearing wherein peasant and activist groups, including Amanda, were red-tagged by Ivylyn Corpino of the Cagayan Information Office.

Amanda is a peasant organizer belonging to AMIHAN-Cagayan. Authorities are also in pursuit of Isabelo Adviento, leader of DANGGAYAN and Anakpawis-Cagayan. Fabricated evidences were planted against them.

Amanda, a graduate of Philippine High School For the Arts and a former UP student, was a researcher for a local NGO catering to the urban poor before she pursued her research and organizing work among landless peasants in Cagayan.

AMIHAN-Cagayan, wherein Amanda is an organizer, is active in campaigns for the welfare of small farmers, especially peasant women. AMIHAN is active in the campaign to increase palay prices and for the junking of the Rice Liberalization Law. It also engages in important struggles for genuine land reform, against high land rent, against militarization of peasant communities, and many others.

“The Senate hearings which presented so-called ‘star witnesses’ were transformed into a witch-hunting party by the NTF-ELCAC, the AFP and PNP-CIDG. We requested the Senate to also probe the killings and arrests of farmers but it has yet to act on our demand,” the KMP leader said.

Instead of engaging in red-tagging and vilification of those unjustly branded as ‘terrorists’ and ‘enemies of the state’, the Duterte government should prioritize urgent issues at hand — coming up with concrete and effective response and solutions to the pandemic and disaster situations, and the alleviation of the worsening economic crisis that resulted to massive nationwide hunger poverty, and unemployment.

“How can Amanda, a mother who recently gave birth, possess firearms and explosives while rearing and breastfeeding her child? The evidence against her was planted, and the warrant was fabricated. The scene of Echanis’ arrest was staged in the same way that the AFP troops arranged and exploited for a photo op the dead body of slain NPA fighter Jevelyn Cullamat in Surigao,” says Anakpawis leader Ariel Casilao.

“Amanda and her newborn son should be released immediately due to humanitarian reasons. She is a breastfeeding mother and her son needs utmost care and attention, both should not stay in a detention cell and be exposed to various forms of distress. Hindi na dapat maulit ang ginawa ng estado kina Reina Mae Nasino at Baby River,” Casilao said.

“Wala pang hustisya ang pagpaslang kay Ka Randy Echanis, sa halip, sumasahol pang lalo ang pagtrato sa mga magsasaka at aktibista,” Casilao added.

KMP and Anakpawis demand the immediate release of arrested activist and AMIHAN-Cagayan organizer Amanda Echanis and all peasant political prisoners arrested and detained on fabricated evidence and charges.

Stop Red Tagging!
Stop The Attacks!
Release Amanda Echanis and her newborn son!

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