We appeal for your urgent support to join the call for Amanda Echanis with her month-old baby Randall Emmanuel’s immediate and unconditional release on humanitarian grounds.
On December 2, at around 3:30 in the morning, Amanda Soccoro Lacaba Echanis, 32 years old and organizer of peasant women under the Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women Cagayan provincial chapter was illegally arrested and detained, along with her month-old baby boy Randall Emmanuel by the combined forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in Baggao town, Cagayan province. Amanda was charged with non-bailable trumped-up charges such as Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunitions and Illegal Possession of Explosives, same with the charges filed against peasant women who are currently incarcerated.
The police reported seizing an M16 assault rifle, 1 long plastic magazine for M16 rifle, 1 long steel magazine for M16 rifle, 20 live ammunition for an M16 rifle, and two hand grenades. The very evidence the police are claiming for her guilt is also the very evidence for the innocence of a frail mother with a delicate month-old infant. Moreover, amid her small build, the police are claiming she is a high-ranking official of the New People’s Army in the province. The “mother and child” are currently detained at Camp Adduru, CIDG Region 2 headquarters in Tuguegarao City.
Moreover, Amanda Echanis and her month-old baby are the latest to the increasing list of Duterte’s accomplishments to silence his critics.
According to Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas regional chapter DANGGAYAN-Cagayan Valley, since 2018, massive and systematic red-tagging of activists was rampant in the region by the AFP using fake organizations like Mulat-CV and ISEM–CV. They branded and accused the fifty-seven (57) names of activists as recruiters of the NPA. Ripped sacks written with names and organizations of activists were hanged on trees along major highways in three towns of Isabela and Cagayan, respectively, and Tuguegarao City. Moreover, flyers were distributed in Tuguegarao City, slandering the activists as “terrorists” and “recruiter of NPA.”
Youngest political prisoner and a mother
Amanda is the daughter of Erlinda “Ka Linda” Lacaba and the assassinated Anakpawis Party-list National Chairperson and peace consultant Randall “Ka Randy” Echanis. In August 1990, Amanda, then barely one-year and ten months, was the youngest political prisoner together with her parents who were incarcerated at that time on trumped-up charges. The Echanis family is a generation of activists and patriots who championed the cause of the people and the oppressed.
For the second time, and now a first time mother to her month-old baby Randall Emmanuel, Amanda was once again incarcerated on fabricated cases. Amanda’s captors claim that while she was still recuperating from giving birth and taking care of her child, she was staying in a house with high-powered firearms and even grenades. It is total nonsense that while Amanda is breastfeeding and still recovering, she has guns and grenades hidden to defend herself. This is an old tactic and modus of the Duterte regime for the political persecution of activists. Once again, jail is not safe for Amanda and her baby.
The mother and child should not be separated and authorities should not violate the Republic Act 11148 or the “Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act” that stresses the importance of the First one thousand (1,000) days of life refers to the period of a child’s life, which is considered to be the critical window of opportunity to promote health and development and prevent malnutrition and its life-long consequences.
As activist and peasant women organizer
When Amanda went to Cagayan province, she became an organizer of Anakpawis Party-list in 2016 to 2019 and later became a peasant women organizer under Amihan Cagayan. From the very start, she was involved in helping the farmers and peasant women on their campaigns for land rights, lowering of land rent, accessing benefits from the tobacco excise tax, gender equality, right to organize, and right to access social services such as relief aid during natural calamities.
Before working full-time as a community organizer, she was a graduate of the revered Philippine High School for the Arts, a former University of the Philippines student, and was a researcher for a local NGO catering to the urban poor in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Amanda is a soft-spoken, committed, well-loved friend and activist who becomes an inspiration to many young women, and youth who selflessly serve the poor peasant women in Cagayan. Before her arrest, she was involved in the “Kampanya Kontra-Gutom” as collective action against hunger and poverty amid the pandemic and Duterte’s militarist measures. Moreover, it is a campaign against the detrimental impact of the RA 11203 Rice Liberalization Law, the recurring drought, and these recent months, the exacerbation of the impact of successive typhoons such as typhoon Ulysses.
As a writer and cultural worker
Coming from a family of writers, Amanda has already published books such as “Tatlong Paslit na Alaala” and was the playwright for the “Nanay Mameng, isang dula” depicting the life and struggle of urban poor leader Carmen “Nanay Mameng” Deunida for the right to shelter and an adequate standard of living, and democratic rights.
We call on local and international human rights bodies, democratic institutions, civil libertarians, and concerned individuals to denounce the illegal arrest and detention, and filing of trumped-up charges against Amanda Echanis and to help exert pressure on the Duterte government to demand their immediate and unconditional release.
We urgently call on all supporters of the Free Amanda Echanis Network to lead solidarity actions and issue statements, send letters, emails, and/or fax messages demanding the release of Amanda and her month-old baby on humanitarian grounds, and the dropping of the trumped-up criminal charges.
Send support statements and post on social media—either on your timelines or addressed directly to authorities—also reinforce the demand to put an end to the state harassment of activists, land reform advocates, and defenders of human rights.
Let us demand the Philippine government under President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the red-tagging, planting of evidence, and filing of fabricated non-bailable criminal charges on activists and peasant women organizers.
Thank you so much for your support and solidarity!
Let us reverberate these calls:
Free Amanda Echanis with Baby Randall Emmanuel!
Kindly use the following hashtags:
#StopTheAttacks against rights defenders and activists.
Please send the following letter or the document template with your name and signature to the Philippine government addresses indicated.
H.E. RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80, 784-4286
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: Send a message through https://op-proper.gov.ph/contact-us/
RE: APPEAL FOR THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF AMANDA ECHANIS WITH HER MONTH-OLD BABY RANDALL EMMAN
Dear President Duterte:
I am writing regarding the much-reported arrest of 32-year old Amanda Echanis, and her detention with her month-old Baby Randall Emman. She was arrested in the wee hours of December 2, in Barangay Carupian, Baggao town, Cagayan province.
She is being accused of illegal possession of firearms and explosives and the evidence being used against her include an M16 assault rifle, 1 long plastic magazine for M16 rifle, 1 long steel magazine for M16 rifle, 20 live ammunition for an M16 rifle, and two hand grenades. We urge the Excellency to have a glimpse of the photos of Amanda with her child and discern that the very evidence being used against her, is the very evidence of her innocence, being a frail mother with her delicate child.
We are concerned that the armed forces have committed gross abuses, especially when some news reports that the raid was carried out at 3 o’clock early morning, but official police reports state that it was at 8:30 in the morning, only that time witnessing officials from the barangay council were present. Thus, the inconsistency invites doubt and serious questioning, making the arrest appear as illegitimate.
His Excellency should also note that Amanda is the youngest political prisoner when his father Randall Echanis was arrested in 1990. She was then two years old, detained with her mother in Camp Crame. Last August 10, her father was brutally killed in Quezon City and based on autopsy reports, he was tortured and months later, the police investigation has yet to accomplish significantly on solving the merciless crime. She is still in mourning, was not able to visit his wake and attend the internment because of the strict lockdown and now she is enduring this situation with her child.
In this light Mr. President, I am appealing for the immediate release of Amanda Echanis with her child, Baby Randall Emmanuel, on humanitarian grounds, to ensure that they are not separated to avoid a recurrence of the fate of Baby River Nasino, child of political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino. May you uphold the rule of law and basic rights of the citizens in our country.
Please urgently respond to this humanitarian appeal for the sake of Baby Randall Emmanuel who is vulnerable to unhealthy and adverse situations.
[Name and Organization]
MR. MENARDO GUEVARRA
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Padre Faura St., Ermita, Manila
Direct Line: 521-1908; 526-5462 Trunkline: 523-84-81 loc. 211/214 Telefax: (+632) 523-9548 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
MR. JOSE LUIS MARTIN GASCON
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex, Commonwealth Avenue Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188, 920-9510 Telefax: (+632) 929 0102 Email: email@example.com
Please send us a copy of your email to the above-named officials at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
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