Examining body of other victim in Echanis killing 'just as important': Fortun

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 24 2020 09:18 AM

Watch more in iWant or TFC.tv

MANILA — Examining the body of the neighbor of peasant leader and National Democratic Front (NDF) peace consultant Randall Echanis is just as important in reconstructing the killings and holding the assailants accountable, a forensic pathologist said Monday.

Dr. Raquel Fortun, who autopsied Echanis' remains last week, said she has had "no access" to the body of the other victim, identified as Louie Tagapia, in the killings last August 10.

The two were found dead in a rented apartment in Quezon City after a witness allegedly heard “loud noises” coming from the unit.

"The other victim is just as important. Routinely, you want to reconstruct what happened, you have to know how were they attacked, what kind of weapon, did they survive, what was the fatal injury and so on," she told ANC.

"And for you to be able to reconstruct the events and ultimately hold the assailants accountable, you have to understand everything. I'm very curious what injuries the other victims sustained. Was the same weapon used on the 2? How long did they survive and so on. That’s the only way you can investigate a double homicide in this case."

Wigna Echanis Mendoza, sister of slain peasant leader and former National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Randall Echanis, uses her mobile phone to record updates as she mourns her brother at the Funeraria Nacional on Araneta Avenue in Quezon City on Aug. 14. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) earlier said it has yet to conduct an autopsy on Echanis' neighbor and check the police’s claim that there were no signs of forced entry at the crime scene.

Echanis bore at least 15 wounds, including 2 on his head, CHR Commissioner Leah Tanodra-Armamento said.

He sustained "a lot" of injuries, particularly on the head and trunk, and at least 3 types of weapons were used, Fortun said.

The fatal blow that killed Echanis was a stab wound to the aorta, she added.

"We actually found a foreign body in the cadaver so we have a clear picture of what this pointed weapon was. I wish the crime scene investigation was done very meticulously," she said.

"The other injuries, we would call them post-mortem. He was very much still alive and they were not apparently designed to really kill but just to hurt. They were superficial. The only worse injury we had, other than that stab wound to the aorta, was the head trauma because he had lot of fractures to the left side of the head."

Fortun added that the public can "definitely speculate there was more than 1 assailant, considering you have more than 1 weapon used."

There were also no injuries that would show Echanis fought back or that he was tied up, according to Fortun.

"That’s a huge consideration--that he was already in advanced age and not able to mount any defense of his own. And the other is, what was his position during the attack," she said.

"He was likely thrown face down with the attacker or assailant behind him. And with the limited information I have on the scene, he may have been attacked that way. He was thrown face down."

The CHR is “not yet sure” of the motive for the killings, said Armamente. 

Malacañang has said it was premature to say that state forces were behind the killings of Echanis and human rights defender Zara Alvarez in Bacolod City just days later. 

"Blaming state forces as the people behind these murders is unfounded as investigation on the killings of Randall Enchanis and Zara Alvarez is now underway. We are a nation of laws, and violence has no place in any civilized society," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.