A “big fish” – that is what the military thinks of the position in the Communist Party of the Philippines Central Committee of Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas deputy secretary general, Randal Echanis, who was recently arrested by the police in Bago City , Negros Occidental.
Military records show that before he was designated as head of the CPP Peasant Committee, Echanis, 60, was the secretary of the Northern Luzon Regional Party Committee from 1977-80 and the Northwest Luzon Regional Party Committee from 1981 to 1983.
Echanis whose contemporaries in the Visayas were Arturo Tabara and Noel Etabag, who broke away from the CPP-NPA, was arrested in 1983 but granted amnesty in 1986 by then President Corazon Aquino.
Military records also show that Echanis rejoined his comrades in 1989 as chief of the CPP political department, until he was arrested in Luzon and again later released on orders of the court.
Echanis re-united with his comrades in central Luzon, and allegedly involved in the purging of “deep-penetration-agents” in their rank and file, which has been expanded to Visayas and Mindanao , military also said.
He also underwent training abroad, especially in urban partisan operations, military records also showed.
Echanis, who reportedly has a reward for his capture, was apprehended by members of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, in Brgy. Calumangan, Bago City , by virtue of an arrest warrant for multiple murder issued by Leyte Judge Ephraim Abando.
KMP president Rafael “ Ka Paeng” Mariano and UMA chairman Rene Galang yesterday claimed in a joint statement that government agents were out to kill or abduct Echanis.
Mariano said they have pictures to prove that the so-called arresting team of the Negros Occidental police wore bonnets and were not in police uniforms.
Exiled CPP leader Jose Maria Sison, Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Satur Ocampo and Echaniz were among the 56 respondents in multiple murder cases, for the mass purging of their members who were found buried in mass graves at Hilongos, Leyte in the late 1980s.
In a statement, CPP spokesman Gregorio Rosal joined priest-turned-rebel Luis Jalandoni, chief negotiator of the National Democratic Front, and Ocampo in lambasting the government for what the claimed was the illegal arrest of Echanis.
He said the arrest signals the revival and intensification of the legal offensive side of Gen. Hermogenes Esperon's bloody war.
Jalandoni also said the arrest of Echanis, who also a member of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee, is a flagrant violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.
Senior Supt. Rosendo, provincial police director, said Echanis also faces kidnapping and illegal possession of firearms charges in Tuguegarao and Metro Manila.
Franco denied his policemen were wearing bonnets during the serving of the warrant to Echanis.
Echanis is now detained at the Leyte Provincial Jail.*GPB