Malaya Movement Canada denounces the illegal arrest and detention of Amanda Socorro Lacaba Echanis, a new mother and her month-old son. Amanda is a peasant organizer under the Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women Cagayan provincial chapter, a group that actively works for the welfare of small farmers, especially peasant women, and engages in the struggles for genuine land reform. Social activism is not a crime.
Malaya Movement Canada condemns in the strongest terms all decisions and activities towards this illegal arrest: the vilification and red tagging of Amanda Echanis before the illegal arrest, the planting of specific evidence towards a nonbailable offense, the falsified warrant, and the illegal arrest and incarceration of Amanda along with her month-old baby.
The baby is Randall Emmanuel named after his grandfather, former National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant and Anakpawis Partylist National Chairperson, Randall Echanis, who was tortured and slain in the middle of the night only 4 months ago, and after his other grandfather Emmanuel Lacaba, poet and activist, turned guerilla fighter who was killed during the Marcos dictatorship. The Echanis family has not gotten over grieving the gruesome fate of Randall Echanis, and now, Amanda has been illegally arrested and detained with her baby.
Based on various publications on this illegal arrest, Amanda Echanis was illegally arrested and detained 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 trumped-up charges such as Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunitions and Illegal Possession of Explosives which are non-bailable offenses. Like other activists and people’s organizations, Amanda and Anakpawis were subjected to red tagging and vilification by the military, prior to her arrest.
This illegal arrest follows a pattern already evident in previous unlawful arrests of other activists and journalists where the target is vilified and red-tagged before the arrests, then very specific evidence items are planted during the illegal arrests to create cases that are non-bailable offenses.
How feasible is it for a new, breastfeeding mother to be able to collect and store the firearms and explosives supposedly found in her possession? How believable is it when similar modus operandi of planted evidence and falsified warrants are carried out in very similar arrests like the cases of Reina Mae Nasino and Lady Ann Salem? Voicing dissent is not a crime.
Malaya Movement joins the Filipino people and all freedom-loving and patriotic forces in demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Amanda Echanis and Baby Randall Emmanuel. We also urge the Philippine Commission on Human Rights to remind and pressure the military to give due consideration to the welfare of Amanda and her baby and treat her humanely while her case is being processed. More importantly, that the military observe the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders or the Bangkok Rules.
Freedom for Amanda Echanis and Baby Randall Emmanuel now!
Stop Red Tagging!
Stop the Attacks on Activists and Journalists
Mabuhay ang malayang Pilipinas!
*Malaya Movement in Canada is the broad network of groups and individuals against the killings and dictatorship and for the cause of freedom and democracy in the Philippines. It has chapters in British Columbia, Quebec, Ontario, Winnipeg, and Alberta.