MANILA-- Authorities should first finish the investigation into the death of peasant leader and peace consultant Randy Echanis before anyone points a finger over the killing, Malacañang said Tuesday after exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison and militant groups blamed the government.
The 72-year-old Echanis and an unidentified neighbor were found dead in a rented house early Monday, Anakpawis said. The peasant leader was reportedly stabbed to death, according to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
"Antayin po natin ang imbestigasyon ng pulisya diyan ‘no. Ito naman po ay kaso ng murder o homicide at iniimbestigahan po iyan ng ating kapulisan," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
(Let's wait for the police investigation. This is either a case of murder or homicide that is being investigated by the police.)
"Huwag sana pong mabilis magbintang sa gobyerno dahil ang CPP-NPA, nagkaroon din naman po sila ng karanasan na sila-sila nagpatayan," he added.
(Let's not be quick to blame the government because there have been instances where the killings were done among themselves.)
Roque made the remark after Sison condemned the killing of Echanis, and called President Rodrigo Duterte a "tyrant, traitor, butcher, and plunderer."
"With the murder of Randall and his neighbor, the Duterte gang of butchers has aroused the indignation and just wrath of the peasant masses and the entire Filipino people," Sison said in a statement.
On late Monday night, the Echanis family lawyer said the remains of the slain peasant leader were "illegally retrieved" by Quezon City police from a funeral home.
Echanis' remains were earlier brought by his family to St. Peter's Chapels in Quezon Avenue for processing, but much to the family's surprise, uniformed men arrived at the scene to "retrieve" the body.
Police said the family did not have a release order.
On Tuesday, a member of the Anakpawis paralegal team was taken into custody by policemen for "obstruction of justice" after he sought the release of the remains of Echanis.
Echanis was the national chairperson of Anakpawis, deputy secretary-general of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, and a consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines for the peace talks with the government.